8 Tips for Trick-or-Treating with a Toddler

How to Prepare Your Toddler to Go Door-to-Door Begging for Candy.

Halloween is an exciting holiday for toddlers, and parents often want to let our little ones partake in all of the festivities, including trick-or-treating. Use these tips to ensure a safe, happy and meltdown-free Halloween night for your toddler. 

Choose an appropriate costume.

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Toddlers are still young enough that they usually aren't demanding to be dressed up as a popular cartoon princess and super hero, which means parents have more control over their toddler's halloween costume. Keep these tips in mind: Dress for the weather. In some parts of the U.S., the end of October can mean falling temperatures (even snow), while in others, it's rainy or even summer-like. Choose a costume that will keep your toddler warm and dry, but not overheat him. For newly potty trained toddlers, make sure there aren't too many buttons or difficult-to-undo pieces to a costume. Don't cover a toddler's face or have elaborate props for safety purposes as well as comfort. In general, keep a toddler's costume simple. 

Go early.

Trick-or-treating often starts very early -- sometimes as early as 3pm, which leaves some parents scrambling to get out of work. But if possible, take your toddler while it's still light out. Not only will it be easier to keep an eye on a toddler, the sidewalks will likely be less crowded since bigger kids will no doubt wait until nightfall to head out. 

Use a wagon.

Even if your toddler insists on walking, you might want to bring a wagon or stroller. Wagons let you easily haul more than one kid at a time, and provides a spot to put extra gear if needed. You also only need one hand to pull a wagon, leaving the other free for your toddler who refuses to ride. Inevitably, your toddler will tire of walking and if you don't have a wagon with you, you'll end up carrying her home. 

Set expectations.

Give your toddler the heads up about anything that might scare him -- like older kids yelling or houses that have spooky decorations. You'll also want to brief your toddler on safety -- watching for cars and bikes; holding hands when needed; looking both ways before crossing the street. Make sure he knows the trick-or-treat drill, to say thank you, and that candy won't be eaten until mom and dad have a chance to inspect it back at home.

Bring a small bag for treats.

While the traditional plastic pumpkins are adorable, these candy receptacles are also bulky and awkward for toddlers to carry. Instead, choose a small bag that has handles -- gift bags work well. A smaller bag will also dissuade your little one from getting too much candy.

Plan a short route.

Toddlers aren't known for their ability to stay on task for long periods of time, and while trick-or-treating may be exciting, don't plan to be out more than 30 minutes. Plan a short route -- two to three blocks is likely more than enough for your toddler to get his fill of Halloween. This will also help you ensure that you stay close to home (in case of meltdowns or potty emergencies), and you'll likely know the majority of neighbors you visit.  

Eat beforehand.

One of the best ways to ensure a toddler is in a good mood is to eat dinner or have a hearty snack before you head out to trick-or-treat. Making sure your toddler eats also means you have the ability to give him some greens and other healthy foods before he dives into the sweets. 

Limit the sugar.

Halloween Candy
Mitch Diamond

Before you take your toddler out, determine how much candy is enough. Your toddler will want to sample the goods, and that's OK, but keep in mind that too much sugar will wind her up before bedtime. The good news is that Halloween is a great time to teach moderation. Try letting your toddler pick three pieces of candy and putting the rest away. You'll end up with extra candy, but there are ways to get rid of it without throwing it away. 

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