by Julie Snyder
When you think of Halloween candy safety you might envision razor blades and drugs. That certainly is a concern that we'll discuss, but health conscious parents worry about one more thing.
Candy bombards our kids -- in fundraisers and throughout holidays. It's affecting their teeth and increasing their waistlines. Your child's trick-or-treat bag is apt to bulge with every kind of candy imaginable -- in almost unfathomable amounts.
How does your family handle the candy safety issue? Do you let your munchkin decide how much to eat or do you set limits? A single answer doesn't fit all kids. Use what you know about your child's personality and eating habits as you set rules.
Some kids eat just a couple of pieces and save the rest for later. You can probably trust them to decide how much to eat. But if your child tends to overdo it, you may need to help them set limits.
For all kids, serve a healthy meal before they head out trick-or-treating. It will encourage them to hold off snacking until you can check the treats.
These tips can help your child (and you) handle Halloween treats wisely:
Be a model by eating the candy in moderation yourself. If that's a problem for you, give away non-food treats or hold off buying your candy until the last minute and get rid of leftovers right away.
Know how much candy your child collected. Check through it and then store it somewhere besides the child's room. Handy candy can be an irresistible temptation for many kids.
Be somewhat lenient on Halloween. Halloween is a single day on the calendar. Go ahead and allow your child to eat several pieces of candy. If your family eats sensibly during the rest of the year, a single day of indulging won't have a bad effect.
Agree on limits. Once your child eats a few favorites, talk about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Choose an amount per day or week (kids don't need candy every day).
Encourage your child to listen to their body and stop eating before they feel full or sick.
Reduce the stash. Does your child have a pillowcase bulging with loot? Offer to buy some of it back. You're acknowledging their ownership and offering a chance to earn a little cash.
Does the vision of pounds of leftover candy and battles over eating "rights" give you nightmares? These suggestions can help you reduce the stash:
Donate it: A local shelter may appreciate a donation of candy or party supplies. They'll be able to throw a party for kids who have to stay there.
Take it to work: Let your co-workers help get rid of it for you.
Regift: Talk about this option with your child in advance. If it's agreeable, take part of the trick-or-treat candy and add it to that you're handing out.
✓ As you choose Halloween treats, steer away from choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or tiny toys for very young children
✓ Accept and give out candy that isn't easily unwrapped; candies such as Tootsie Rolls™, hard candies and certain bubble gums with twist-type wrappings can be tampered with more easily than those that are sealed
✓ Instead of candy, give out stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, little bottles of bubbles, themed pencils or miniature decks of cards
✓ Check your child's treats for signs of tampering, such as small pinholes in wrappers and torn or loose packages
✓ When in doubt, throw it out
✓ Because small amounts can be toxic, keep chocolate candy, raisins and macadamia nuts away from dogs
Have a safe, "spooktacular" Halloween!
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.