Keeping Kids Healthy and Safe this Halloween

Keeping Kids Healthy and Safe this HalloweenTrick or treat, smell my feet…are you sure what you’re handing out this Halloween is safe for kids to eat? We’ve included a list of what candy is best to hand out to trick-or-treaters this Halloween and which ones to steer clear from. Halloween should be an enjoyable time for kids of all ages, even children that may suffer from food allergies.

Gummy Candies. Delicious and chewy, gummy candies can certainly be addictive! Unfortunately, they are very high in sugar and are full of chemicals. Candies in this group are Skittles, Mike & Ikes, and Sour Patch Kids, to name a few. Gummy candies are full of chemicals and an amalgam of sugars. Sure, they taste good and may be easier for children of younger ages to suck and chew on, but it does not mean we should let our children devour them this Halloween. Gummy candies are best eaten within moderation, and children should be encouraged to brush and floss their teeth right after they eat it. As with most sugary treats, the longer gummy candies are on teeth the more time they have to begin to form cavities.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Candies are in some ways a healthier option. In moderation, they have better health benefits because the chocolate contains cocoa and the nutty varieties include protein from peanuts. Candies such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snicker, and Twix are great examples. The “fun size” versions of these candies also offer children a couple bites of sweetness to satisfy a sweet tooth with a lower calorie count and less sugar.

Hard Candies can be a choking hazard to younger trick-or-treaters. Consumption of Lemon heads, Gobstoppers, and Jawbreakers should be monitored closely when being enjoyed by smaller children. According to a study conducted by Pediatrics, hard candy accounted for 15% percent of all choking episodes. If your kids love jawbreakers, make sure they are old enough and that they take their time to eat them.

How do you say “no more candy” to your cute ghost, precious princess, or favorite superhero this Halloween?You can keep the candy on a higher shelf, unable to be reached by younger children and allocate how much and how often they are allowed to enjoy the candy. Halloween is the perfect time to practice eating in moderation with your children! A child between the ages of 2 and 18 should be consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar every day. That is about 25 grams of sugar which equals out to about 100 calories. For your trick or treater, that is about one fun sized candy bar a day, depending on what treat you decide to divvy out. This may seem extreme, but one piece of candy a day teaches them they don’t need to devour all the candy at one sitting, possibly ending up with a belly ache afterwards. Enjoying Halloween candy in moderation is simply a healthier way to treat yourself, and your children.

Acknowledging Children with Allergies. Did you knowmilk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are responsible for 90% of allergens responsible for allergic reactions? This Halloween, you can make the holiday enjoyable for children suffering from food allergies by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. To participate in this project, you put a teal pumpkin out in the front of your home and pass out non-food related treats such as bubbles, stickers, and glow sticks. The teal pumpkin represents which houses are giving out non-food related treats that children with and without allergies can enjoy. Of course, there are also lists available online of treats that are “allergy-friendly” for kids this Halloween.

The Association of Childcare Physicians want you and your child to be educated this year as you enjoy all of your Halloween festivities, including the treats! The Association of Childcare Physicians can be reached by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want your children to live healthy, quality lives, receiving the best medical care possible during this holiday season and all year long.