When is the Right Time For Your Children to Trick or Treat?

It’s time for spooky season! From pumpkin-flavored everything to cozy sweaters, we are obsessed with all things fall. The weather cools down, and it’s time to get geared up for all of the fun that accompanies autumn.

For many, that means trick or treating. There are few things better than getting out with your family, establishing holiday traditions, and making new memories together.

New parents often ask the same questions. When is the right age to start trick or treating? What’s the best time of day to go? What about when Halloween falls on a Sunday or school night? What should parents do with all the candy?

We recognize that everybody’s situation is different. Some live in suburban neighborhoods, some live in apartments. Some live close to family, others don’t live near anyone they know. Our advice isn’t for everyone, but we’ll try to make it applicable to many common situations.

We’ve met with dozens of parents and have some tips, ideas and suggestions for your next Halloween. 

Best Age for Trick or Treating

This depends on the answers to a few questions. Are they trick or treating alone?[1] Are you wanting to go door to door or visit specific family and friends? How many children do you have and what are their age differences?

First Time Trick or Treating

Many families are finding that three is a great age to help your toddler start trick or treating. Some two-year-old’s may be ready, but many may feel overwhelmed by the activity. Three years old is a fantastic time to introduce the activity.

However, this may change depending on how many children you have. If you have a three-year-old and a six-month-old, that doesn’t mean you have to keep the six-month-old at home. Weather and schedule permitting, this is a fantastic opportunity to get out together as a family. Put your little one in a baby carrier (need costume ideas?) and set some candy on the porch for the trick or treaters while you’re out. Let every member of your family, young and old, participate in the fun.

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Going Solo

In terms of trick or treating solo, many parents are finding that a good time to start is sometime between eleven and thirteen years old.[2]

Door to Door vs. Specific Family and Friends

This depends entirely on your specific situation. Maybe you live in a neighborhood with tons of kids. Maybe some of them are friends with your little trick or treaters. In that case, they will love trick or treating close to home and going door to door. This is also a popular option for older kids.

However, if you have family nearby and younger children, they will love visiting specific family members and friends. Letting grandma and grandpa see their ultra-cool costumes? There’s nothing better. On top of that, your younger children won’t be able to keep their energy as long, so intentionally visiting specific family and friends will make the experience more memorable for them.

Best Time for Trick or Treating

When venturing out with little ones on Halloween night, it’s best to get an early start. Here’s why:

  • It’s warmer when the sun is out
  • Your children will have more energy
  • Family-friendly Halloween fun happens when the sun is out. Once the sun goes down, that’s when those spooky Halloween decorations can become more intimidating.

Time of Day

So, what time of day should you start? The sun sets at different times depending on where you live.[3] Check your local news resources to see when the sun is expected to set in your city. You might also consider reaching out to some neighbors and other local parents to see what their plans are.

For many, a good rule of thumb is to plan on starting their trick-or-treating adventures at 5:00. However, some areas start as early as 3:00 or 3:30 in the afternoon, while others aren’t passing out candy until 6:00. According to Good Housekeeping, “…most Americans (agree) that trick-or-treaters should start arriving by 6:00 P.M. and be finished by 9:00 P.M. at the latest.”[4]

Day of the Week

When Halloween falls on a Sunday

This year, we have a unique factor that only comes every seven years: Halloween falls on a Sunday. So what’s the protocol for that? Does trick or treating happen on Sunday or does it get pushed back to Saturday?

In situations like this, plan on trick or treating on Saturday instead of Sunday. In many major cities, when Halloween falls on a Sunday, it’s celebrated on Saturday instead.[5] Whether it be religion or the fact that Sunday is a school night, many parents opt for trick or treating on Saturday.

However, this is another factor that you will want to ask around about! Consult with your neighbors and see what their plans and expectations are. This will help you get a better handle on what your neighborhood is anticipating.

When Halloween Falls on a Weekday

If Halloween falls on a weekday, the solution is a little more straightforward. You trick or treat on the day that Halloween falls on. So if Halloween is on a Tuesday, you trick or treat on Tuesday. If it’s on Friday, you trick or treat on Friday. Simple as that!

How to Trick or Treat with Babies

Taking your baby out for trick-or-treating family fun can be equal parts exciting and intimidating. Ensuring you have everything you need on hand to keep them happy and comfortable is going to make a world of difference for you and your peace of mind! Here are some must-haves:

  • Carefully consider your baby’s costume. You will most likely want to put on a long-sleeved onesie under the costume, as well as some pants and socks. Even if the costume has long sleeves and long pants, many costumes are made with low-quality materials, and you’ll want your baby to be as warm and cozy as possible with the lower temperatures.[6]
    • Give your baby the opportunity to wear their costume before the big night. Let them get used to the different feel of the material. This will be especially helpful if you find that your baby won’t tolerate the costume and you need to look for another one.
    • Some babies have a difficult time wearing things on their head, especially anything that covers the face. You may want to avoid costumes that involve those elements.
  • Determine whether you’re going to tote your little one in a baby carrier or if a stroller is going to work best. There are pros and cons to both, and it all comes down to your personal preferences.

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  • Pack that diaper bag with care! Just because you’ll be around the neighborhood and close to home doesn’t mean you don’t need the essentials. We’re talking diapers, wipes, a bottle, snacks (if they’re old enough) and a swaddle blanket (for added warmth)— the works. 
  • Be realistic about what time you’ll leave for trick or treating and how long you’ll be able to stay out. Of course, you want to make the most of this special experience with your family, but it will be much more enjoyable when you have a clear idea of what your baby can handle.

Preparing Your Child for Trick or Treating

When it comes to getting your older child ready to go trick or treating, there are a few things you can do to make sure it’s a positive experience. Remember that while the prospect of going door to door asking for candy may seem exciting to your child, it’s important to prepare them for the other people in scary costumes, the potentially frightening decor and overstimulation. 

Silly Not Scary

Sit down with your child ahead of time and walk them through the agenda for the evening. Explain the costumes and the decorations to them. Avoid using the word “scary.” Swap it out for “funny” or “silly.” For example, try describing the neighbor’s zombie decor as silly. Making it light-hearted will take some of the edge off the experience for your child.

Practice Makes Perfect

You might also consider practicing in your home. Have different members of the family stand behind the doors in your home. Give them each a little treat or snack to hand to your child. Have your little one go from door to door, knock, say trick or treat and then say thank you after receiving their prize. They’ll see it as an incredibly rewarding game, and it will prepare them for the big night of trick or treating.

Set a Timeline

You’ll also want to find a way to establish the timeline for your child, which will depend on their age. You can tell them you’ll be done trick or treating at 8:00, tell them how many doors you’ll knock on before you’re done, or for the younger trick or treaters, tell them you’re done when the sun goes down. Establishing the timeline and expectations ahead of time will make a world of difference when the time comes to call it a night.

After the Trick or Treating

Wanting to keep the night special and memorable? There are plenty of fun things you can do with your children after trick or treating to keep the festivities going! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Count how many pieces of candy they received.
  • Turn on a Halloween show and let them stay up. Plenty of your child’s favorite shows have Halloween specials or you could turn on a movie. “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” are classics and easy crowd-pleasers!
  • Do a Halloween craft together.
  • Halloween candy hunt. Hide some of their candy around the house and have them look for it!
  • Enjoy some Halloween-themed food together. After all the candy, some pigs in a blanket, mummy-style, will be a welcome snack!

Ergobaby Trick or Treating Checklist

Make sure you have everything you need for a memorable night out trick or treating! Here’s our trick or treating checklist to make things a little easier:

  • Halloween costumes
  • Layers — long-sleeve shirt under the costume, thick socks, coat, etc.
  • Candy bag
  • Flashlight
  • Baby carrier or stroller for your little one
  • A stocked-up diaper bag
  • Portable phone charger (get those cute pictures!)
  • Hand warmers
  • Halloween craft (optional)
  • Halloween snacks for after Trick or Treating (optional)
  • Halloween show or movie to finish off the night (optional)

Trick or Treat!

Whether you’re taking off for your first night of trick or treating with your toddler or you’re preparing for a family evening with multiple children, trick or treating as a family doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Choose your costumes, determine what time you’ll leave, establish expectations with your children and set up some fun activities to make it the most fabulous Halloween yet!


  1. https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/documents/ResearchReports/halloween-research-report.pdf
  2. https://www.moms.com/trick-or-treat-kids-age-go-with-friends/
  3. https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/
  4. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/a29356931/what-time-does-trick-or-treating-start/#:~:text=Each%20city%20can%20vastly%20differ,9%20p.m.%20at%20the%20latest.
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/us/29halloween.html
  6. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/americas-spooktacular-october-climate
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Kirsten Metcalf is a writer, editor and mother to a hilarious but very strong-willed toddler and a beautiful baby girl. She started writing short stories in elementary school and years later became a sports reporter and editor. Now, she mainly writes marketing, religious and parenting-related blog posts. Even before she knew she wanted to be a writer, Kirsten knew she wanted to be a mom. She knows being a mom is one of the most rewarding but hardest jobs out there, which is why she loves being able to share parenting knowledge and support to other moms through her writing. When she actually wins negotiations with her toddler, Kirsten likes to reward herself by watching KU basketball, eating cheesecake, or going on a Target run by herself.