Spooky decor, creative costumes, festive music, pumpkin scents, and all your favorite candies in bite-size form—it’s hard not to love all the sights, sounds, and tastes of Halloween. But Halloween isn’t always loved by young kids. What’s fun to you may be frightening to them. And while you’d think that every kid would enjoy and be able to handle one evening of trick-or-treating, it can become more of a trick than a treat.
But still, trick-or-treating is worth trying with your kids. Follow these eight tips to help make this year’s Halloween night of trick-or-treating as fun, festive, and safe with your kids as you can!
1. Prep your child for everything Halloween.
Jack-o-lanterns, fake spider webs, smoke machines, masks, teenagers jumping out of a bush screaming “BOO” at you—Halloween is fun, but it can also be frightening to toddlers because of scary costumes and decorations, as well as it being something new. Teach your child about trick-or-treating and all other things Halloween by reading them books about Halloween. Also, remind them that this is a fun holiday and the scary stuff they may see is just pretend.
2. Start before sunset.
Generally, you can expect trick-or-treaters once the sun goes down. But depending on where you live that may not be until after 6 p.m. So what is the best time to trick-or-treat? With younger kids, it’s OK to take them out before sunset. Some parents start as early as 4 p.m., although not everyone is home from work and ready with candy at that time, so others go out with their toddlers between 5:30-6 p.m. Go when it’s best for you.
3. Make sure your kid’s costume is comfortable and fits right.
Walk into any costume store or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of adorable Halloween costumes. Just remember, when it comes to baby and toddler costumes—simple and comfortable come before cute and complicated. Along with comfort, make sure the costume fits right. You don’t want your little princess tripping over her dress that’s too long or your little fireman not being able to reach into bowls for candy because his sleeves go past his hands. Buy (and alter if you need) your kid’s costume so the dress or pants hit above their feet and the sleeves don’t hang over their hands and so they can have a full range of motion.
4. Do a costume test run.
Are you using face paint? Putting a wig or hat on your child? Planning to use your front baby carrier for a babywearing Halloween costume? Whatever your child’s costume is, test it out before Halloween night. For one thing, you want to make sure it works. You also want your child to be comfortable in their costume and make sure the fabric or face paint doesn’t cause any type of skin irritation.
5. Light it up.
If you’re out when it’s dark, you don’t want to be dressed in dark colors. You and your kids need to be seen by drivers and other trick-or-treaters, so choose costumes in light colors or add reflective stickers or tape to costumes and candy bags. It’s also smart to have your toddler carry a small flashlight or wear a glow stick necklace or bracelets to help them see and be seen by others.
6. Take your baby, but not the pumpkin candy pail.
Do you take your baby trick-or-treating? That’s up to you. If you have older kids, you may have to take your baby. If this is your first, don’t let someone stop you from going all out for your baby’s first Halloween. Young kids in costumes are cute, but babies in costumes are a whole other level of cute.
Put together a fun family costume or use your baby carrier for a sweet mommy-and-me costume. That way you can keep your baby close to you this Halloween while still taking advantage of getting out of the house, introducing your baby to neighbors, and having plenty of photos for your next Chatbooks photo book. And to help steer clear of anyone’s judgments or awkward door moments, don’t bring a bucket and ask for candy for your baby, who obviously can’t have any yet. But don’t worry, some neighbors will still hand you some chocolate encouragement for the rest of the night.
7. Eat dinner before.
The quickest way to slow down or ruin a night of trick-or-treating is your child asking to eat a piece of candy after each house. To help mitigate them asking every time—because let’s be honest, they’ll still ask to eat a piece or three while you’re out—have dinner before you trick-or-treat. At least this way you know if your child is asking for some candy it’s not because they’re starving.
8. Don’t try and hit the entire neighborhood.
Are you wondering when should you stop trick-or-treating? This year, if you have a little one, the answer is probably shortly after it starts. Little kids lack the ability to trick-or-treat for hours, knocking on every door in your neighborhood and the next. They have short legs and short attention spans, and we all know what happens when little kids get too tired or overstimulated. You know your kid best, so just enjoy trick-or-treating as long as they and you can last.