Make Halloween Safe for Your Toddler

by Jovanna Acevedo Quesada

pumpkin in a treeToddlers love investigating new things. It's time to decorate for Halloween and bring a sparkle to your tot's eye. Heads-up -- you might develop a whole new appreciation for the word "No!" before you "spook up" your halls this year! Run down our list of safety tips to keep your curious wee one out of trouble!

Keep Creepy to a Minimum

Children, especially toddlers, have a limited ability to discern reality from make-believe. Halloween and its sometimes frightening décor can become a world of terror for your little one. As you're going all out on your home, keep in mind how your toddler could react to the scary items. Instead of realistic rats and skeletons, opt for the more family-friendly versions. Plush rats might not be as fun, but it's worth thinking about the big picture. If your kids can handle the dark and mysterious, this shouldn't be an issue.

Grinning pumpkins and cats wearing hats bring smiles where fog machines and black lights might make them scream! Try some colorful spider webs and a string of purple lights instead. Exchange your Halloween "spooky" soundtrack for a fun sing-along. For our littler ghosts and goblins, less really can be more.

We've put together this list of simple tips to keep the fun and the decorations in place. We can't guarantee your toddler won't find ways around these ideas, but we hope they'll help! Share your tips with other parents in the comments!

  • Hang all décor ABOVE your child's reach. If they can't touch it, they can't cause harm or be harmed. Hang those especially dazzling items far away from curious climbers and fingers!
  • Decorate as late as possible. Halloween is only one night of fright! If you can hold off on decorating until the last week or so, you'll automatically eliminate your toddler's access to the taunting tricks and make the holiday a little more magical!
  • Keep the candy in the cupboards and out of dishes. Pretty ceramics with shiny wrappers are like toddler-fly traps! Out of sight, out of mind! You CAN win the candy wars.

Choose Safe Spooks

Aside from Christmas, Halloween is the most decorated day of the year. Out come the spider webs, giant plastic skeletons and gently glowing pumpkins. All might seem harmless at first glance but these goodies can harbor hidden dangers. Do you know which pieces of eye candy could be a toddler-hazard? Scan our checklist for the most dangerous décor and see where your house stands!

Pumpkins: Those big orange balls of fun can become a choking hazard if your child decides to "chomp down" on one, or a piece of one! When you carve your pumpkins keep all sharp tools and pumpkin bits away from your little artists. Seeds are especially menacing so clean up those pumpkin guts before your toddler can grab a scoop! Never leave your child unattended near a pumpkin lit by a candle. For a safer alternative, try the battery-operated pumpkin lamps or the new led-tealights.

Spider webs: Nothing says Halloween like a giant web strewn across the front of your house. What's the problem? They're created to be incredibly strong and stretchy. Kids, being kids, are less likely to see the web and more likely to walk into it and get tangled. For a toddler, this experience can be not only dangerous but frightening. We suggest you keep the webs, but keep them up and out of the way!

Styrofoam™ everything: The medium of choice for many decorations (like tombstones) is styrofoam™. This lightweight and easily placed item creates total disaster if your "goblin" figures out how easily it's broken! Not only is Styrofoam™ a mess when shredded, it's a chemical-infused nightmare that shouldn't be eaten. Check your décor for cracks or tears. If you see your child "picking" at it, move the object out of their reach as soon as you can.