Alien hand on window


**post updated 10/29/18

Halloween is in two days and that means it’s crunch time for many households. If you haven’t figured out your costumes yet, there’s still time to throw one together . Still, costumes are only one part of Halloween. It’s the trick or treating that can really get stressful for parents.

Honestly, it is a terrible idea it is in theory: bringing together masses of children running around in the dark in dangerous/scary/unidentifiable costumes and loading them up with bags of sugary candy given by strangers. Of course, it can be a blast for both kids and adults.  It just takes a well-thought out game plan.

Whether this is your first time as a parent on Halloween or your 17th, here’s a Halloween guide that can help keep things more fun than frightening next weekend:

Halloween guide: Babies

It’s time to admit your baby couldn’t care less about Halloween. There is no idea for them of what is going on and truthfully, they probably shouldn’t be anywhere near candy (until they at least have all of their teeth).

But can you deny there are very few things cuter than babies stuffed in Halloween costumes?  So, yes you will want to do it for picture purposes alone and we understand!

For those with older kids and a new baby, you probably already know the basics but here they are anyway:

  • pick Halloween costumes appropriate to the weather
  • pick costumes that don’t have any loose parts or accessories that babies can chew on or potentially put in their mouths
  • plan a late nap to help your baby stay awake for a later night
  • Plan on carrying your baby to help him/her feel safe – Halloween can be very overwhelming for babies!
  • If possible, pick a few houses to trick or treat at and then opt for finding a quiet place for baby’s bedtime
  • Team up with a neighbor or relative for sleeping – trick or treating involves a ringing doorbell which may be very disruptive for sleeping
  • Place candy on the doorstep in a basket or plan on sitting outside at the end of a driveway to hand out candy to avoid doorbell ringing altogether

Halloween guide: ages 3-9

Possibly our favorite age group as  kids tend to be the most excited about Halloween costumes between ages 3-7. Heck,  for kids in the 3-5 age range Halloween is really just like any other day where one dons a costume. Halloween just makes it even more thrilling because FINALLY everyone else is doing it too.  Most 6-9 year olds still get a kick out of dressing up too and can request very elaborate costumes.

Some tips:

  • encourage your child to pick a comfortable costume
  • avoid costumes with accessories that are easily lost or broken – this age group is also the quickest to have a melt down on Halloween night
  • establish early on how many houses you plan to visit and discuss the “how” of trick or treating
  • set a limit on candy and tell your child exactly what it is and when they get to have some

Halloween guide: ages 10-14

Little witch kid costume

This age group can be the trickiest for parents. After all,  the “tween” ages mean stronger opinions, more independence and usually involve bigger crowds of kids joining up to trick or treat together. Many times,  kids in this age group are entirely covered in masks or makeup, making them tough to recognize in the dark. The boys for the age delight in scaring people (which is hard on smaller kids). Plus, it’a all about candy: she who has the most wins.

It’s especially important to lay out a game plan prior to hitting the neighborhood during these years.

Halloween tips for the tweens:

  • have a very clear plan about safety: remind kids about cars that may not see them suddenly running into the road
  • send at least 1 designated adult for every 4 kids (just a safe ratio to have a better headcount)
  • remind them to say “thank you” and to slow down so they won’t run over smaller kids
  • if allowing older kids to travel unsupervised in a group, be sure someone has a phone and set designated check in times
  • remind kids to use the buddy system, even if just traveling from house to house
  • if kids have phones, request that they “check in” at designated points throughout the night to give updates

Halloween guide: teens

Teens in full covered costume

By teenage years, most kids have stopped trick or treating. Then again, they haven’t stopped being  kids, which is why some of them suddenly grab an empty pillowcase and head out for a last minute expedition with no costume. This article is a GREAT reminder of why adults should be a little more encouraging of finding these giant trick or treaters at their door. Teenage years are also an excellent time to let your child invite friends over, get dressed up and hand out candy. Little kids love seeing big kids dressed up and a lot of teens secretly still love a lot of Halloween traditions – it’s just no longer “cool” to participate.

Halloween guide: alternatives

You may skip the traditional act of trick or treating altogether or look for a church-based trunk or treat if available in your community. Many malls and retailers that set aside a particular time or date to hand out candy,  which can be a great relief for parents.

Here are a few more ideas for Halloween for babies.

And more ideas for trick or treating alternatives for most ages.

Have a safe, fun, and Happy Halloween this year!!