Halloween is a glorious time to be a child! Children (and many adults) revel in the spirit, planning costumes, candy-gathering routes and places to see the best decorations in town.
Keeping Halloween spooky and fun, but also safe is the best way to avoid scary shrieks, screams or meltdowns. Bay Street Pediatrics is here with helpful advice to make the holiday happy.
Your child has probably been planning their costume for weeks, and it might be anything from a zombie to a crayon. The costume is the show-stopper for kids at Halloween but you also want to keep safety and practicality in mind. Your kids should be able to move freely and easily get in and out of their costume when they need to use the bathroom. Some other considerations for costumes are:
Make up vs Mask. Masks can restrict your child’s vision, so consider using make up instead. Look for child-safe options at your local costume store, test them on a small patch of your child’s skin to screen for allergies or irritants before the big day, and follow YouTube tutorials that make turning your child into a zombie a snap.
Wigs and hats require special care when part of a costume. Oversized wigs and hats can become vision hazards. If a costume absolutely requires them, make sure they fit properly, are securely attached with clips or barrettes to your child’s head and are pinned away from the face and eyes to keep vision clear. As Edna Mode from The Incredibles reminds us, “No capes.” Capes, as Edna points out, lead to a number of avoidable accidents. While your children are not likely to get sucked into a vortex, capes are tripping and choking hazards. They can also be used to pull and harass your child. So, “no capes.”
Keep colors bright. Halloween can be a dangerous time for child pedestrians, with accidents much more likely than any other day of the year. Make sure that your child is wearing bright colors, reflective tapes or stripes, and is equipped with flash lights while trick-or-treating to ensure that they are easily seen at all times.
Consider the temperature. Here in Connecticut, you can invest a great deal of time in creating a costume, just to cover it up in a heavy coat when temperatures drop. Instead, consider a costume that is made or bought a size larger than is needed so children can layer clothes underneath their outfit. Incorporate outwear into the costume; a fancy dress worn over a princess gown or a few extra layers of clothes to help build out super hero muscles. Encourage your child’s input and cooperation so the costume is just right, there are no arguments, and your child stays warm and cozy on Halloween night.
Shoes should be made for walking. Bare feet, flip flops, high heels, or clunky boots that are difficult to walk in will make Halloween – and quite possibly the next few weeks – just miserable. Your children should wear comfortable gym shoes, or boots if it’s slushy, for safety and comfort.
Say “no” to anything that can be used as a weapon. Your child may argue “Who is Batman without his Batarang?” and while you may privately agree with this sentiment, it is certainly not worth the risk. When Halloween fun gets frenetic, even your older children will struggle with impulse control. Having a plastic version of a Batarang, a knight’s sword or even a cane or umbrella can cause injury.
Never allow your child to carry prop guns with them, and even more so on Halloween. In dim lighting, some people may mistake a toy firearm for the real thing and react too quickly. For the safety of your child and all those around them, do not allow any type of toy firearm to be part of their costume.
Stick to your own neighborhood or a familiar area to stay safe. You may feel comfortable supervising your younger kids in unfamiliar neighborhoods, but older, unchaperoned children should be required to stay in a tight, very familiar zone.
It’s difficult to decide when to allow your child to go off unsupervised with friends. Letting your child trick-or-treat without you depends on your child, the group they want to trick-or-treat with, and your comfort level. If you are well-acquainted with the group of friends (and their parents) your child wants to join and you know their route, you may be comfortable staying home and passing out your own candy. However, if your child asks to go with peers you’ve never heard of, in a neighborhood that is new or unfamiliar to you, trust your instincts, say “no” and help your child come up with another plan.
When your child is allowed to go out unsupervised, follow these safety rules:
- You will need to know everyone in the group
- You will need to know their route/neighborhoods in advance
- If they are going with another adult, you need to know that adult and have their contact information
- If they are going alone, consider adding a tracking app to their phone. Require regular, scheduled check-ins and stress that they must answer your calls or texts within a reasonable time frame
- Do not enter any house
- Do not accept a ride from anyone, unless they have heard from you confirming this arrangement
- Curfew is not negotiable
- All treats collected need to be examined by you before they are consumed – even for teenagers.
Be Safe and Have Fun
Bay Street knows that Halloween can be safe and fun, especially when you carefully plan costume safety and neighborhood safety in advance. When you have questions about your child’s health and wellness, message us through your patient portal. We will be happy to help!