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Halloween treats: How much candy should your child get?

It’s almost Halloween, and the buzz is all about candy. How much, what types, and how to manage the whole evening are just some of the questions on many parents’ minds. 

Candy is the cornerstone of trick-or-treating. Although you may feel the urge to control or restrict candy, it will be hard, especially if you have an older toddler or preschooler who is more aware of the holiday.

Here are some tips and thoughts for all parents of toddlers to consider on Halloween.

Is it okay for my toddler to eat candy on Halloween?

The answer to this question really depends on your child’s age. If your child is under age 2, keep the trick-or-treating experience geared toward dressing up, knocking on the door, and saying, “trick-or-treat!” Most babies and young toddlers are clueless about candy, so try to keep it that way. There will be plenty of years when your child can eat Halloween candy. The first two years of life are too important for eating nutritious food, plenty of key nutrients, and a variety of healthy flavors. Sweets can disrupt this process.

Should I limit Halloween candy?

If your toddler is over 2 years old, he or she can enjoy the treats of the evening with your supervision. First, make sure you have a limit on candy intake for the night. For a 2-year-old, it might be one or two pieces and perhaps a few pieces for older toddlers. The point is that, as the parent, you need to set the limit on candy eating for the night. One resource that might assist you in setting these limits is the information about the calorie and sugar content of snack size Halloween treats.

Will candy make my toddler cranky?

It might, especially if your toddler heads out for Halloween on an empty stomach. Put the odds of taming treats in your favor by starting the night with a healthy meal. Serve it early to encourage its consumption and include a balance of food groups. Trick-or-treating on a full belly increases the odds that you will have an energized child who will be able to keep up with all of the evening’s activities. It may also temper a candy binge.

Above all, remember that there are ways to keep Halloween fun and exciting while managing the impact of sugary treats. Halloween comes once a year and, in a child’s mind, it is a highlight. Find the most reasonable (and healthy) approach for your toddler, so everyone can enjoy the evening!

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About Jill Castle, Bundoo Pediatric Nutritionist

Jill Castle is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and childhood nutrition expert. She is co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School.

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  1. Great advice- with so many Halloween events at this time

  2. We’ve found that it’s the collecting of candy more than the eating of candy that is the most fun in our house! My kids love going door to door but then are content with just a piece or two for a few days. Once the enthusiasm fades, I quietly dispose of the rest of it. They also really love handing out candy, so especially when they were little, we just went to a few houses then enjoyed opening our own door.