Inside: Learn practical strategies and tips for how to handle all the Halloween candy with toddlers and preschoolers.
It’s the night they look forward to all year…
Wearing a costume and eating sugar.
This is pretty much a 3 year old’s dream, right?
But as a parent it can feel more like a nightmare.
At this point, you may have many questions racing through your mind:
- How much candy should I let my 4 year old eat?
- What should I do with all the “leftover” candy?
- Should I not let my toddler eat any candy?
- And how much candy is too much?
Being a parent is not easy.
On the one hand, of course, we want to be the “fun” parent. Candy? Sure! It’s Halloween!
And on the other hand, we want to be the practical, conscious parent. As in, we know bedtime is coming up, and we don’t want our 2 year old popping M&Ms left and right and eating them nonstop for days on end.
Of course, every family is different, and every family has different “food values” – but if you’re here reading this article, then I’m guessing we have similar feelings when it comes to Halloween candy.
As with anything in parenting, this is where it helps to have a plan.
If you’re wondering to yourself: “how should I handle Halloween candy with my toddler or preschooler?” today I’m going to share with you some practical tips that can help ease your mind and allow you to enjoy the holiday more.
How to Handle all the Halloween Candy with Toddlers & Preschoolers
Step 1: Don’t Make Halloween All About the Candy
This memorable holiday doesn’t have to boil down to one thing: candy. Just like Christmas doesn’t have to be all about the presents.
In our house, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about candy, other than going over our plan (see step 2) on Halloween night, and practicing good manners for trick-or-treating (please, thank you, trick-or-treat).
Here are some simple ways to take the focus off the candy:
- Offer Halloween pretzel bags to trick-or-treaters
- Buy inexpensive spider, bat, or ghost rings at the dollar store (kids love these!)
- Decorate the front porch or front door
- Shop for costumes as a big family event
- Make fun Halloween snacks that utilize other foods
Step 2: Have a Plan
This is where it’s essential for you and your partner (and grandparents, if applicable) to ALL be on the same page.
That means no matter who gets asked about candy, everybody has the same answer.
Here is our family’s Halloween candy plan:
- Each kid gets to pick 2 pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night (for reference, in 2020, my girls are 3 & 5 years old).
- And each kid gets to pick a few pieces (no more than 5) to keep as snacks/treats for later that week – only if they ask.
- My husband takes the rest of the candy with him to work the very next day in his work-bag. Out of sight, out of mind.
- We don’t get to eat or keep anything that’s considered a choking hazard (as per kid’s age) – for example: lollipops, gum, hard candy, extremely chewy candy.
These are our Halloween candy rules and they have been the same every year.
Of course, as kids get older, it may be more appropriate for them to be allowed more candy and to be able to regulate themselves. However, when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, more structure and supervision is required.
HELP! My toddler throws a tantrum when she is refused more candy.
This should be handled like any other tantrum. There’s no need to cave or give in (especially where sugar is involved). Often times, they simply need to have the tantrum, and then suddenly it’s over, and they’re ready to move on.
You may find it helpful to reflect what your toddler is feeling, without judgement and without condoning their behavior. This works best with younger toddlers. For example:
“You’re upset. You want more candy and mommy said not tonight.”
With older preschoolers and “big” kids (4 & 5), it may be more helpful to say:
“I hear you want more Halloween candy. Our family’s plan is 2 pieces on Halloween night. You can have more tomorrow.”
Remember that having rules doesn’t make you strict or mean. It makes you a parent!
What about my 18 month old? I don’t want him to feel left out when his older brothers have candy.
The American Heart Association recommends that toddlers under 2 consume no added sugar. This can seem unrealistic, especially if you’re not always in control of what your child eats.
That being said, most kids under 2 may not fully understand Halloween. Especially if they don’t have an older sibling. Personally, I’ve never offered candy to my kids on Halloween. I’ve always waited until they asked if they could have it, which for both kids, was around 3.
Days after Halloween my 4 year old STILL asks about the Halloween candy.
As with anything with kids, it’s important to keep it brief and move on to something else. There’s no need to give a deep explanation or justify your decision-making as a parent.
Here is a simple statement you can try if your child keeps asking:
“Sounds like you had a lot of fun on Halloween! We don’t have any Halloween candy right now. Can you come help me outside for a minute?”
How to Handle Halloween Candy with Toddlers: Takeaways
- Don’t make it all about the candy
- Have a plan (and stick to it)
- Use helpful phrases as necessary and move on
It’s important to remember that the information shared here is simply my advice, mom-to-mom. I am not a pediatrician. As always, I’m simply sharing what has worked for me and my family.