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Kids & Candy: Should Toddlers Trick-or-Treat?

Kids & Candy: Should Toddlers Trick-or-Treat?

I’ve been trying to decide how much, if at all, my toddler should trick-or-treat this year. A few months shy of his third birthday, this is probably the last year my husband and I could choose just to keep him home without him being overly aware of what he’s missing. If I’m honest with myself, I’d just admit right here and now that we probably won’t make that decision. To begin with, I’m sure his older sister wouldn’t allow it. Then there are the adorable costume photos we’ll want for the family album, and finally, bringing the kids trick-or-treating is one of the few times in the year we get to say hello to some of our neighbors. We’ve taken our daughter trick-or-treating every year since she was 1 1/2. But she had no interest in candy until she was 4. My son, on the other hand, has a huge sweet tooth. He’ll see a candy he’s never seen before, and he knows it’s a treat. He loves all kinds of sweets. And there’s rub. When my daughter was 2, trick-or-treating was all about parading in a costume and saying hello to the neighbors. For my 2-year-old son, it will be about the Twizzlers, M&Ms (or “lemon Ms” as he calls them), and whatever else he can collect in his bag. And I just hate for that love affair with candy to start so soon. Of course, Halloween didn’t introduce him to candy. His family did that (yes, that includes me). But there’s this teeny tiny piece of me that wants to keep him out of the trick-or-treat sugar fest just one more year.

tin of lollipops

Now that I’ve woken up from that cavity-free fantasy and reality has slapped me in the face, I can admit I know that truth. My name is Mommy. And my toddler will be trick-or-treating. And if I have my act together, here are a few things I could do with most of the candy afterwards.

  • Find a dentist in my area participating in a Halloween Candy Buy Back like this one, which sends the candy to US Troops serving overseas. Or send it directly to an organization like Operation Shoe Box that also sends the candy to troops.
  • Use it to conduct science experiments. Seriously.
  • Stash away select candy, like M&Ms, peanut butter cups and Heath Bars to use in homemade ice cream throughout the year. Or, if you’re a gingerbread decorating family, save Twizzlers, Skittles and Nerds for your gingerbread house.
  • Let your kids trade the candy for a non-edible present. One mom I know told her daughter if she left her stash of candy by the door, the Halloween Fairy would bring her a present. And she did.

If I hold a mirror to my face, I will probably admit that what will really happen is that I will let my kids eat a little more candy than I planned. I will eat a lot more than I planned. I will stash a few lollipops and such in my purse to use as bribe currency on those days when I just can’t fight the whining anymore. And I will bring the rest to my office, where I will once again eat more than I had planned.

Now, Game 7 of the World Series, should there be one, is scheduled for October 31. If it goes that far, I, like many parents throughout Boston and St. Louis, will need to reevaluate the whole trick-or-treating thing for another reason entirely.

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