Article courtesy of Zest Pediatric Network - The Nest Schools Medical Education Partner
Fall is here! Time for pumpkins, pumpkin spice everything, cooler weather, apple picking, and Halloween! Let’s review some health and safety guidelines for all ages to make this a wonderful, safe Halloween for everyone!
Many children plan their Halloween costumes all year and cannot wait to dress up. Try to stick with light or bright-colored, fire-resistant costumes that are more visible as it gets dark outside. To make costumes more visible in the evening, use reflective tape or glow stick necklaces or bracelets and encourage your child to carry a flashlight with them. Ensure costumes fit appropriately to avoid trips and falls. Masks can obstruct vision and increase the risk of accidents. Try an alternative like non-toxic makeup or a well-fitting hat or wig to complete the costume. If using makeup, plan ahead and test it on your child’s arm 24-48 hours before using it on the face. This will decrease the likelihood of an irritation reaction; be sure to wash all makeup off before bed. Avoid hazardous costume accessories such as swords, canes, sticks, or sharp objects, which can lead to injury if used improperly and increase their tripping risk. Also, avoid decorative contact lenses that are not properly fitted by an eye doctor. Using these can lead to different eye disorders, infections, and even vision loss.
Leading up to Halloween, start talking about how to appropriately enjoy Halloween treats. Encourage your child not to overeat to avoid them feeling ill, and encourage healthy habits. Set up a plan for after Halloween, so your child knows what to expect as they continue to enjoy their bounty of candy through the weeks, months, or maybe even year! Especially for younger children, avoid having treats until you are home to properly check them and avoid a choking hazard as they run from house to house. If your child has any food allergies, review what they need to avoid and stick with prepackaged, commercially made treats to avoid potential allergen exposure.
Pumpkin decorating can be an excellent fall activity to enjoy with your children. Avoid pumpkin carving with younger children to avoid injuries. Great alternatives can be drawing or painting pumpkins or other fall decorations. If carving yourself or with older children, review the appropriate use of tools to avoid injury and be sure children are always supervised. Consider alternatives to candles to light up pumpkins, like glow sticks, LED candles, and flashlights, to decrease fire risk, especially during trick or treating. Remove any hazards from walkways at your home; if you choose to use candles, never leave them unattended when lit.
Don’t forget the little ones!
Halloween can be a fun but overwhelming time for our toddlers and babies. Help to prepare them by talking about what to expect, reading Halloween stories, and trying on costumes early to get them used to how everyone may look different. The idea of pretending to be something else can be hard for our little ones to grasp! Reassure them that you are still there and avoid masks so they can recognize a familiar face. Plan backups! Little children get messy and love to change their minds at the last minute, so having a backup plan can help you avoid a pre-trick-or-treating meltdown. If your child decides they do not want to go trick-or-treating, let them help pass out candy to the bigger children and try again next year. Going out early can help to avoid changes in bedtime routine and your child becoming overtired and more irritable. Trunk-or-Treats in the afternoon can also be an excellent option for smaller children. When it comes to treats for our little ones, remember to check their treat bags for choke hazards before allowing them to dig in or ration them yourself. Be sure to avoid hard candies, popcorn, gum, gummies, seeds or nuts, caramel apples, small toys, wrappers, and stickers, which can all be harmful and lead to choking.
Remembering some safety tips and preparing before Halloween can make it more enjoyable and a little less stressful for everyone. Have a happy and safe Halloween!