It’s Halloween time again, and you’re trying to figure out what kind of Halloween candy to buy for your toddler. You want to make sure that the Halloween candy is healthy and safe while still being delicious. In this blog post, I will discuss Halloween safety tips, the best Halloween candy for toddlers, and choking hazards.
Healthy Halloween Tips
Halloween can cause stress for parents with kids of all ages — all that candy! But the problem for many is that they don’t have a Halloween candy plan OR don’t feel confident in their Halloween candy plan. My goal is to not only share the best candy for kids and toddlers but help you feel good about the whole night.
- Halloween is just a season. – While having a game plan to intentionally approach these seasons is great and important, don’t lose sight of the fact that Halloween is just ONE day/night (plus maybe a classroom party + candy that can last a month — we’ll touch on that later!)
- Feed your kids a well-balanced meal beforehand. – Kids, especially toddlers who haven’t been as influenced by society yet, have a knack for regulating themselves, and if their belly is full they will likely eat less candy. Additionally, the protein from a well-balanced dinner can help stabilize the sugar in the candy they do consume.
- Have a Plan. – I discuss this in more detail below, including how it can differ by age group, but having a clear plan that you feel confident in can be a sure way to help you actually enjoy the holiday with your kids rather than stressing over how much candy you should let them eat and if they are going to overdo it.
- Recognize that there ARE Halloween candy options. – It’s not all just sugar and chocolate! There are some healthier candy alternatives, which I’ll discuss below, including Halloween-themed fruits.
- Emphasize other parts of the holiday to your kids. – I do this with most holidays. While candy is no doubt enjoyable for kids (and adults!) there are so many fun things about Halloween that go beyond the candy. Talk about the costumes, seeing friends, and passing out fun (possibly even healthy) treats at your own house.
Best Halloween Candy Choices for Toddlers
I personally love the idea of giving out non-candy treats for babies and toddlers on Halloween. I know that there are enough other houses giving out candy that if I don’t, the kids won’t miss it but will simply have a little less (and more variety). However, I also understand the desire to hand out candy so I’m summing up a few of the best (safest) candy choices for toddlers.
Since chewy candy, hard candy, and round candy are no-gos for toddlers – soft, meltable, and basic chocolate candy becomes a popular choice. Here are a few of my favorites for toddlers. This does pose some challenges for toddlers with food allergies, as many food allergy-safe candies (Yum Earth Pops for example) technically should be avoided until age 4.
Unreal peanut butter cups are a lower-sugar version of Reese’s cups made with higher quality/recognizable ingredients. They are my favorite healthy candy for toddlers.
Budget-Friendly Alternative: Reese’s Cups
2. Other Chocolate Candy
Annie’s Fruit Snacks aren’t technically candy, but they are definitely a similar sweet treat for kids. Many fruit snacks and gummies are too chewy for toddlers, but Annie’s are softer fruit snacks. Obviously, use your own judgment when serving anything to your kids.
Have A Halloween Plan for Your Kids
Like most things in parenting, it’s important to have a plan for Halloween. Whether you’re feeding your kids Halloween candy at home or letting them trick-or-treat, it’s helpful to have boundaries set prior to the holiday and communicate your plan to your kids before trick or treating starts.
Your plan can look different depending on your children’s ages and your individual family. For example, a 1-year-old and 3-year-old have a totally different perspective of Halloween and what is going on. A 1-year-old will have a limited understanding of candy (especially if they have never received candy before) and will definitely not know that candy is associated with Halloween. A 3-year-old on the other hand will be excited for Halloween, so talk to them about their costume and expected candy!
Obviously, your approach can change depending on older siblings as well. There is no doubt that younger siblings watch their older siblings closely and try to mirror what they do! Decide on an approach that feels good for your family. I’m sharing some ideas you can incorporate into your Healthy Halloween plan based on the age range below.
Approaching Halloween Candy By Age
Halloween Treats for Age 1: Can a 1-year-old have candy?
Most research supports waiting until age 2 to give your child any added sugar. Therefore, it is not recommended to give your 1-year-old candy. Look for no sugar treats such as these muffins sweetened with dates, no sugar toddler cookies, or other fruits if you want to offer them something fun to eat. Additionally, here are some great ideas on Halloween treats for Babies.
At age 1, it’s pretty easy to avoid candy as long as they have another option they enjoy available. If they have siblings and are approaching 2, it can be a bit trickier and you may need to play it by ear remembering it’s only 1 day. However, if you plan ahead and have other fun food options they love, likely they won’t care that they aren’t receiving candy since they don’t really know what it is.
Halloween Candy: Ages 2-3
At age 2, kids start to have a clearer picture of what is going on. They are excited about Halloween, know the connection to candy, and will want some themselves. A plan is still key though! It’s important to have boundaries in place as well as a clear understanding of how much they can eat so you feel confident in your decision.
How close they are to age 3, if they have older siblings, and their experience with candy will all affect the rules you set for them.
At age 3 your child likely remembers Halloween and is excited for it and for the candy. Communicating your expectations for the night as well as family boundaries regarding candy can be helpful.
Here are a few ways to approach Halloween candy with a 2 or 3-year-old:
- Allow them a few (2-3 pieces) of candy on the night of Halloween and make it disappear the next day. Likely, depending on how close to 3 they are, they may not think of it again.
- If they do ask for candy again (in a day or 2,) offer 1 piece with dinner.
- It’s more likely that they will ask for more candy if they have an older sibling who remembers their candy and is enjoying some at future times.
- When your child seems like they’ve forgotten about the candy, simply get rid of it.
- Alternatively, allow them as much as they want on Halloween. Then, offer to trade the remainder out for a toy/surprise.
What Candy is Safe for Toddlers?
According to research, the most common choking hazards in candy include round or hard candy, caramels, gumdrops, jelly beans, and gummy candies. The AAP recommends children under the age of 4-5 should NOT be given hard candies or gum.
While this list is not conclusive, some popular candies to be avoided would include:
- Jolly ranchers
- Any other hard candy: Werthers, butterscotch candy, lemon drops, candy drops, hard fruit candy, etc.
- Gummy candies
If you are unsure if a particular candy is safe, it’s best to avoid giving them that type of candy. Also, be sure to monitor your kids while they eat Halloween treats – don’t let them go unsupervised!
You can certainly pass out something besides candy. In fact, my son finds raisin packs as exciting as candy. I think there is something about having them come out of a small box that makes it feel more special. But here are some more fun ideas (yes, more fun than raisins) if you are looking for a candy alternative to hand out or other Halloween treat ideas for babies or toddlers.
Candy for Babies: Can Babies Have Halloween Candy?
No, Babies should not eat Halloween candy. In fact, I would recommend waiting until age 2 to try any candy. Go ahead and take them trick or treating, but bring an unsweetened applesauce pouch for them to enjoy instead. There is no nutritional benefit in candy and many of them are choking hazards anyway.
Best Halloween Candy for Kids with Allergies
Teal Pumpkin Project
Join the Teal Pumpkin Project, if you plan to give away non-food treats for kids. You can find more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here. Basically, families who deal with food allergies can look for teal pumpkin houses for their kids which will allow them to participate while not receiving any candy that would not be safe for them.
While not all of these choices are safe for toddlers, here is a list of allergy-friendly candy put together by the Kids With Allergies Organization. Unfortunately, many of them are hard/chewy/sticky candies that are not safe for toddlers. However, it can provide you a starting place for finding an allergy-friendly candy for your child. As always, speak with your personal dietitian or pediatrician for questions about your child specifically.