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Scare up a Healthy Halloween

Though Halloween season seemed to have begun in August this year – we knew what you really were, “Back to School candy”! – now is the time to really consider a plan for All Hallows’ Eve. We know you’ve already decided on which Ghostbuster to be (Holtzmann, of course) but what about your kids, those little ghosts and witches, Harry Potters and Elsas?

Consider the Costume

Masks make it hard to see, and breathe, so avoid them. Choose good old-fashioned face-painting instead, but don’t buy make-up from the dollar store – you need the hypo-allergenic, non-toxic good stuff (test it first, and don’t forget to wash it all off before bed to avoid skin irritation). Though this is surely a day that celebrates darkness, try to include as much light-coloured material as possible in the costume itself to increase visibility to drivers and other trick-or-treaters. (You can also add reflective strips to the back of the costume, which are dorky but life-saving.)

Make sure the costume fits properly – it shouldn’t hang past the child’s feet (including capes), and you shouldn’t pair it with something like six-inch Frankenstein platforms in order prevent tripping and/or falls. The obstacles provided by darkness, excitement and sugar rushes are enough! If a costume includes a sword/knife element, make sure it’s soft and flexible. The FDA has declared decorative contact lenses that change your eye colour not worth the risk of misuse. Accessories like beards, wigs and wings should be labelled flame-resistant. Don’t be talked into style over substance – if it’s cold as it usually is near November, make ’em layer up. And don’t send the wee ones out alone: Caring for Kids advises that kids under 10 should be accompanied by an adult.

Careful with that Candy!

Once they’ve returned with their bounty, check it out. Unless they were made by someone you know, homemade treats such as cookies, squares, caramel corn are an absolute no: the old razor blade in the apple is not just a myth. Official, factory-made and -wrapped candy is the way to go (don’t forget check the ingredients list to make sure it won’t trigger any food allergies). Even those can be tampered with, so check for torn wrappers, pinholes, or any other suspicious appearance. Watch out for choking hazards, including peanuts, hard candies, and chewy candies.

Health begins at home

In terms of your own Halloween offerings stick to the bags of mini-chips, chocolate bars and the like. You could also choose to provide healthier treats, such as packets of trail mix or fruit bars, or non-food items, like temporary tattoos, stickers and toys.

Jack-o’-lanterns are a fire hazard, so don’t line your porch with them (or replace the standard tea light with the battery-operated kind). You should, however, keep your walkway, stoop and doorstep well lit and free of debris.

Keep an eye on the stash, and limit what the kids are allowed to eat daily – don’t let them hold onto it in their rooms. Keeping the candy in the fridge or cupboard helps you control when and how much they eat, so they don’t overindulge. It may not be a perfect system, but it does help reinforce the idea that candy is good in small amounts, and too much all at once will make them feel sick. If Halloween can be about learning moderation, and also about reinforcing dental care, those lessons could last a lifetime.

Your turn: What’s your strategy for a healthy Halloween? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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