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Halloween Health and Safety Tips from Dr. Vattana’s Desk

by Alexa Styliadis

Keep your kids safe this Halloween!

Hi everyone – I love keeping kids safe and healthy just as much as I love Halloween. If your family is wondering about the safest way to celebrate the spooky season in style, please read these tips below.

Q: Are there any types of costumes that are safer than others for my child?
A: If you have a newborn or young infant, please make sure that their costume does not include a mask or cover their face. It’s also important to ensure that costumes for small children and infants fit correctly (especially if it includes a hood or a hat) and that their noses and mouths are visible at all times.

For older children, consider warm costumes that are bright and reflective. You can add glow in the dark necklaces or even add reflective tape to their costumes for easier visibility. If your family will be using face paint, make sure that the face paint is non-toxic, and you can test it ahead of time on a small patch of their skin to ensure that they won’t have an allergic reaction later. Additionally, any costume that incorporates a mask for older children (not young infants and toddlers) can help to prevent the spread of pesky respiratory viruses that are flying around daycares and schools right now.

Q: My children love to fill up on candy during Halloween – how can I minimize the amount of sugar that they’re eating?
A: Make sure to have a large meal all together as a family before going out trick-or-treating so that they fill up on healthier, nutrient-dense foods before sweets. If you can, discuss expectations for enjoying treats the day before, or the day of Halloween so that everyone knows what to expect, and sugar-fueled tantrums are averted or minimized. A good rule of thumb is “Each of you can choose 4 pieces from your candy bag that you can enjoy tonight. We will save the rest so you can have 1 or 2 pieces a day for the rest of the week.” I like for parents and guardians to be “keepers of the treats” so that collected candy can be rationed (1-2 treats a day for the weeks following Halloween).

Q: Are there any candies that I should avoid giving out on Halloween, or conversely, stop my child from eating?
A: It’s always nice to have a peanut-free candy option for trick or treaters who have peanut or nut allergies. Additionally, small children (less than 3 years old) and infants should NEVER be given small round treats like skittles, M&M’s, gummy candies, pumpkin seeds, or popcorn because of the high risk of choking.

Q: My parents used to check my candy bag every year to make sure that candy hasn’t been tampered with. Should I still be doing that?
A: Although finding candy or treats that have been tampered with can be rare, it’s still a good idea to search through your child’s sack of sweets to make sure that there aren’t any open pieces of candy and/or to confiscate any treats that could be a choking hazard.

Q: What is the safest way to make sure my kids stay healthy during the Halloween season?
A: As a general rule, your child will need to have all of their shots before starting Pre-K and Kindergarten. Most 11 and 15-year-old students will also need vaccines to start the school year. Call us at 585.545.7200 and we'll be happy to let you know if your child needs to come in sooner than their regularly-scheduled well-child visit.

If your family is lucky enough to come into our office the during the week of Halloween, please feel free to wear your Halloween costumes – we will be wearing ours too!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween, everyone!

Written by Dr. Karina Vattana, MD, FAAP

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