Once kids are safely home with their buckets of candy, parents still need to take action to keep them safe, doctors and dentists say. Here are some tips:
Go easy on the stomach. To avoid digestive upset, agree in advance on how many treats your child can eat on Halloween night. Let him pick out those two or three favorite pieces of candy and immediately put the rest aside.
Don't eat during trick-or-treating. Make sure kids come home with their loot so you can inspect it before they dig in. Feed them a healthy dinner before they go out so they're not as tempted to snack.
Beware of choking hazards. Very young children shouldn't have small, hard items such as chewing gum, peanuts or hard candies. Older children should be sitting down when they eat, not running around or wrestling with each other.
Spare the braces. Sticky, chewy or hard candy can bend or break wires in a child's mouth. Kids with braces should stay away from treats such as jawbreakers, caramel candies, nut-filled chocolates, taffy, licorice, gummies and chewing gum.
Throw out unwrapped treats. Also avoid anything with loose or torn wrappers or small holes in the packaging; when in doubt, throw it out. And stay away from homemade treats unless you know the person who made it well.
Control leftovers. Limit kids to about two pieces a day from their stash of goodies, or have them trade in their candy for a toy, book or family outing. You can save the candy for a special occasion – a birthday party pinata, for example – or put it out in a bowl at work. Many dentists also offer buy-back programs.