Have a Healthy & Safe Halloween With Tips From Dr. Hannah Chow-Johnson! by Donna John
Halloween is right around the corner! From safety issues to allergies, costume concerns and more, how will you make it as happy and healthy as possible for your kids? Dr. Hannah Chow-Johnson of Loyola University Health System is a Board-Certified pediatrician and a mom, and she has shared her best tips to keep kids safe this Halloween!
Q: What are some Halloween dangers parents don’t think about?
Safety is a huge concern. Visibility is key, especially when crossing the street. Make sure your child’s costume is visible in the dark or is reflective. I recommend carrying a flashlight.
Q. When can a child go trick-or-treating without an adult?
It depends on the child and their level of maturity, and where they are trick-or-treating. Young kids may seem able to go door to door but may lack judgment when crossing streets because of Halloween excitement. Parents know their own children best, but I would say definitely older than age 11.
Q: What are some rules for trick-or-treating without an adult?
Kids should never go inside a stranger’s house. Kids should not eat anything until inspected at home by a parent. Kids should stay in well-lit areas and be vigilant when crossing streets.
Q: Do you have any tips for limiting candy intake?
Keep Halloween candy on a shelf in a jar and distribute as you see fit. Perhaps limit to one to two pieces at a time. You can donate candy to places like the dentist’s office or the military. Kids can trade in their Halloween candy for other “prizes,” such as a toy, etc.
Q: What should I know about my kids’ Halloween costumes?
Halloween costumes shouldn’t be too binding, and should allow easy and comfortable movement. Some costumes have masks that obscure vision, so you might have to make modifications in order to see.
Q: I have teenagers. What are some good safety rules for them?
Teens need to watch where they’re going and cross the street safely. There is craziness on Halloween. Even though they’re teens, they need to be aware of surroundings.
Q: I don’t like my kids going to strangers’ houses for candy. Do you have any other suggestions?
Have your own Halloween bash, go to the mall for trick-or-treating or go out for a meal instead.
Q: Do you really need to go through all the candy before kids eat it?
Yes, you should at least look at it. Discard anything that is not sealed in plastic. Unless you know the giver, discard anything homemade. We usually tell kids not to take candy from strangers. For younger kids, explain it’s only for that one day only.
Q: My son has a nut allergy and is going trick-or-treating with friends. What should I do?
Definitely do not allow him to eat anything without inspecting it first. Don’t let food-allergic kids trick-or-treat alone. Make sure they carry their self-injectable epinephrine. As soon as kids return home, go through candy and remove treats with allergens or that could cause a reaction. When in doubt, get rid of the candy. It’s a good idea to check candy, even if kids don’t have an allergy. Be careful with “fun size” candy, as it may contain different ingredients than regular-size package. After you or a friend or relative have eaten products with allergens, brush teeth/wash hands before touching kids with allergies.
Q: How do I help prepare my kids for scary Halloween costumes?
This is tough because it’s dark, costumes look menacing. Some kids will have nightmares. Tell them the costumes are make-believe, not real. Trick-or-treat earlier to avoid scarier costumes.
Q: I’m nervous that makeup for kids costume might cause a reaction. What should I do?
Test it first in a small spot on the arm prior to trying it on the face. If there’s a reaction, don’t use it.