How to approach Halloween candy for kids (age-by-age breakdown)

How to approach Halloween candy for kids (age-by-age breakdown)



navigate halloween candy for kids

Here at HNK we are big advocates for promoting a healthy relationship with ALL food. However, when Halloween rolls around each year we have countless messages rolling in from anxious parents.

If approached thoughtfully, Halloween can be the PERFECT opportunity for learning. Let me break it down for you by age and share some real-life practical tips and scripts.

0-2 years
In our opinion, candy/lollies/chocolate aren't necessary for little ones in this age group. They are less likely to understand what they are missing and more likely to be in it for the fun! Swap that candy (if they trick or treat with you or have siblings) with their favourite cookie or alternative treat.

2-4 years
Ensure the day of eating is filled with nourishing foods, including a meal before trick or treat/party food (if that's what you choose to do). Sending a hungry toddler to the candy bowl is a recipe for meltdowns.

At this age most children understand simple instructions such as “let’s choose a treat together to enjoy". It can be SUPER uncomfortable to navigate candy/sugary treats with this age group. However, what we are learning from the evidence is that restricting (beyond what is necessary for safety) may lead to overeating, hoarding and similar undesirable food behaviours.

The only firm rule we have regarding Halloween candy (or any candy) is NO HARD ROUND CANDY due to the choking hazard.

Our suggestion is to practice the division of responsibility here. You choose the meal or snack time and what they have access to and they decide how much (or whether) they eat from this allocated time. When the meal/snack time is over the candy is back in your court. YOU choose when it comes out next.

We highly discourage the use of candy as a reward for eating.

4+ years
From 4, children are likely to model the behaviour of their peers, making Halloween more challenging for parents. But it’s also a great opportunity for them to learn and grow. The above tips apply, plus you can have conversations about your experiences with candy as a child to help your little one understand the food body connection. For example, “when I was little I once ate a lot of candy and felt so sick afterwards. I remember having no energy to play for a few days after and I was super grumpy. That’s why I don’t have candy every day and choose small amounts”. Avoid labelling it as good or bad food or using it as a reward.

What if my child over-indulged:
Use this as the perfect learning opportunity!

Try this script: “Remember how you felt sick last night? It doesn’t feel very good does it. That’s why we don’t have these foods every day. What do you think we could do differently today so you don’t feel like that?"

Most important of all, have fun!

For some quick healthy halloween treats, check out this video.

Happy Halloween from the HNK team.