Chocolate! Candy! More Chocolate! Did I get your attention? The fall season is usually associated with falling leaves, cooler weather, and hayrides, but Trunk or Treats, Fall Festivals, and Trick or Treating are also big parts of the season. These fun activities often leave our children with too much candy. All that candy puts your child’s dental health at risk and gives lots of extra calories, but few nutrients. It also becomes a big temptation for parents to sneak a piece.
How does your family deal with all that candy? Is it a sugar-feeding frenzy until it all disappears? Parents are encouraged to take the lead and set some guidelines for the treats.
Decide before the events what the rules will be for your children and tell the children those guidelines. Plan ahead of time how many homes or trunks the children will go to and how much candy is enough to collect. Parents need to decide if candy can be eaten during the event, and what happens to the candy when they get home.
Some parents will allow the children to pick out their 5-10 favorite pieces when they get home. One or two pieces can be eaten then, and the others saved and eaten a little at a time. The leftover candy is then given to the parents. The parents can save or freeze some of it to be used on other occasions such as in Christmas stockings or in birthday treat bags.
There are also programs at dental offices that exchange candy for prizes. Operation Gratitude takes candy donated to them and sends it to the troops. The Sumner Co Health Department along with Salvus Center and Hope Family Health also offers the Treasures for Treats program. Another idea is to allow children to trade in candy for money or an activity. For example, ten pieces of candy might be given to the parents in exchange for a trip to the park, a bike ride together, or a trip to the dollar store.
Consider giving out treats other than candy, to help limit candy overload. Stickers, pencils and shaped erasers, mini playdough, bubbles, glow sticks, bracelets, kazoos, and curly straws are just a few fun ideas. The children will love tangerines or small oranges with Jack-o-lantern faces drawn on them. Small boxes of raisins, sugar-free gum, and bags of peanuts or trail mix are also good alternatives to candy. (see list below)
And, last but not least, remember to feed them a good meal before heading out to these fun fall festivities!
Alternatives to Candy
- Cuties, tangerines with funny faces drawn on them
- Fruit cups
- Sugar free gum
- Raisins, small boxes
- Pretzels, small bags
- Pencils & shaped erasers
- Crayons, mini packages
- Temporary Tattoos
- Curly Straws
- Mini Activity or Coloring Books
- Bouncy Balls
- Spinning Tops
- Kazoos or Whistles
- Small Flashlights
- Glow sticks, necklaces or wands