UNM dietitian offers tips on how to handle kids' Halloween haul
Wondering what to do with the mountains of Halloween candy your child will haul home on Saturday night? Kirsten Bennett, PhD, a dietitian at the UNM Health Sciences Center, has some ideas:
Kids love to sort and count, if only to tease a sibling that they have more of a desired treat. Sorting can reinforce school readiness and reading with pattern and letter recognition, color naming and counting. This exercise also allows parents to have a good look at all the candy. Supply small sandwich bags to store each sorted pile.
After sorting, consider putting all the bags in a large cookie jar or 1-gallon jar. Allow kids a “treat” a day from the jar to spread the candy consumption out over time.
Consider sharing some of the bounty with elderly neighbors who enjoy a treat and especially enjoy a visit.
Don’t be scared to start a non-candy treat tradition
For some children, Halloween means they are continually confronted with treats they cannot have due to food allergies, food intolerances or diabetes. Offering non-candy options includes these children in the fun. Alternative treats include themed small toys from the dollar store such as bats, spider rings, stickers, small note pads, pencils and glow bracelets.
Bring back the tricks!
Better yet, forget the treats and plan tricks instead. One year my teenage children turned our garage into a family friendly haunted house. We posted signs in the neighborhood. The older kids had fun constructing the haunted house (they thought they were too old to go trick or treating with the little kids) and the neighborhood kids loved it! Games that can be played on the front porch like a bean bag game or pennies in the pumpkin allow children an alternative that is engaging. Prizes can include stickers and small dollar store toys.
For those who want to provide healthy edible treats consider raisins, granola bars, juice boxes or fruit cups.