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Pediatrician Offers Halloween Safety Tips

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Halloween is just around the corner, and for many children it’s one of the best holidays of year. Whatever your plans there are ways to make Halloween festivities a little healthier for your family and for all those trick-or-treaters knocking on your door.

"Some common sense approaches to what you give out and how you manage your children’s Halloween experience can go a long way toward making the night as special as it should be," says Murugesa Thangavel, MD, chair of the pediatrics department at Antelope Valley Medical Center (AVMC).

With that in mind, Dr. Thangavel offers seven tips for parents as Halloween approaches:

  1. Be sure to feed your children a good meal before they leave the house. If kids are full before they go trick-or-treating, they will eat fewer pieces of candy afterward or along the way.
  2. Consider giving out non-sugary foods such as animal crackers, mini rice cereal, granola bars, pretzels or trail mix. You can also start a new tradition on your street by giving out non-edible items. Some ideas could be glow sticks, crayons and coloring books, stickers, bubble makers, or Halloween-themed toys.
  3. Combine trick-or-treating with exercise by making children walk from house to house instead of driving them to different neighborhoods. Parents can even encourage siblings or friends to wear pedometers or activity meters and start a friendly competition for who can be the most active while they are collecting candy.
  4. You can easily reach 100 calories with just one or two snack-size treats, so be sure to limit the amount of candy your children can have each day after Halloween – with lunch at school, as an afternoon snack, or after dinner. The rest of the candy can go in the freezer so that it’s out of sight and out of mind.
  5. Purchase candy on October 31 to avoid temptation in the days leading up to Halloween. Buy less than what you think you will need to avoid leftovers, and purchase candies that you do not like so you won’t be tempted by candy not given away.
  6. When children get back home from trick-or-treating, have them make two piles: one for the candy they want to keep and another for the candy they will not eat. Consider donating the second pile to a local senior citizens’ home, food pantry, Ronald McDonald House or children’s hospital.
  7. Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Be sure to eat only factory-wrapped treats, and discard homemade treats made by strangers.

"Many children are counting down the days until Halloween, making sure they have the right costume, and becoming excited to join friends to walk the neighborhood collecting goodies," says Dr. Thangavel. "The key for parents is to view the holiday through their children’s eyes, but at the same time be responsible and conscientious so everyone has a magical and memorable night."