Halloween with a preschooler is a special time. Between all the parties, trick-or-treating, crafts and food, there is lots of fun to be had, plus, it's one of those holidays that puts your child's active imagination to use. But if you have a young preschooler who has never really celebrated or understood the holiday before, or even a child who is fearful, Halloween can be a bit overwhelming, especially trick-or-treating. Think about it from your child's perspective: you are walking around the neighborhood, going from door to door taking candy from strangers (usually a huge no-no). There are lots of people around, all in costume (some of them pretty scary). It's a lot to take in. Still, Halloween is a fun holiday and one your child will really grow to enjoy.
If trick-or-treating is on your Halloween agenda this year, consider these tips before heading out with your preschooler:
Keep the costume simple. When you go out trick-or-treating with your little one, it can be tempting to bring all the accessories that her costume came with. But you are better off leaving them at home. You'll have enough to carry in that sure-to-be-very-heavy-because-it's-filled-with-candy treat bag, and certainly you don't want to lose anything. So leave the princess wand or the knight's sword at home, opting instead for the full garb in photos or parties. If your child's costume has a hat or a headpiece of some sort, see if there is a way to secure it so it won't fall off. Also, make sure her costume fits her right. If it's too long or big, she's going to be tripping over it the entire time you are out, which can be irritating to her and a safety hazard as well.
Reconsider a mask. If your child's costume comes with a mask, take a look at it before you head out for the day. Consider if he will really wear the mask the entire time you are out. If you think he will, make sure that his eyes, nose and mouth are unobstructed and that he can see and breathe properly. If you have any doubts that he will keep the mask on, try to paint his face instead.
Pay attention to the weather. Most Halloween costumes can be easily adapted to whatever Mother Nature throws at you weather-wise. If it's cold, put the costume on over your little one's coat. If it's warm, have him put on a t-shirt and shorts underneath. The best bet is to dress in layers, that way you can adjust on the fly as needed.
Make sure he's visible. If you are heading out at dusk or after dark, be sure to adhere reflective tape (compare prices) to his costume so motorists and other trick-or-treaters can see him. Make sure you have a flashlight on hand to help you navigate streets and sidewalks.
Teach her manners. Halloween is the one time of year where it is polite to ask strangers for things, but that doesn't mean there isn't etiquette involved. Make sure your preschooler knows the right way to knock on a door or ring a doorbell (no more than twice), to say "trick-or-treat," and to thank the person who has filled her treat bag. If she is offered a bowl of candy to choose from, make sure she knows to only take one piece.
Go over the candy rules. Here your child is, walking around with a bag filled with candy. It's quite tempting to reach in and take a piece or two. If that's OK with you, that's fine, but make sure your preschooler knows she has to ask first. One, so you can check the treat to make sure it is safe and two, so you can limit how much she has. Also, when reviewing your child's bag, make sure to remove. any choking hazards such as hard candies and small games and money.
Think about nixing the neighborhood. Instead of trick-or-treating up down the streets where you live, consider heading indoors to a local "Safe Halloween" program. Many malls and school host and sponsor these types of initiatives where families can safely trick-or-treat within the confines of a building or park.