The original article was published on October 31, 2011.
Witches, pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and lots and lots of candy. Today is Halloween. Worried about your kid’s candy consumption? Me too. With all the crazy additives from food dyes and preservatives,to partially hydrogenated oils and the 18 million different types of sweeteners out there, it sucks. Oh, and don’t even try to pretend that you’re not worried about all the candy YOU’LL be eating. So what to do? Turns out there are some creative ideas out there to deal with the candy issue:
This idea requires pre-planning and your kid has to buy into the idea. Great for the little ones…might not work for the more established trick-or-treaters. The concept is simple. Think tooth fairy, but instead of the kid hiding a measly tooth under their pillow, they have leave that plastic pumpkin of loot by their bed for a special gift from the Halloween Witch. Pros: you get to choose something special that is unique to your child in exchange for the candy. Cons: requires work on your part and as I mentioned before, your kid has to LOVE the idea. If you’re into it, start young.
Update: We tried this when my daughter was 3 years old. She was excited about getting new stuff, but was sad about loosing her candy and a bit freaked out that a witch came into the house to steal her stuff. I’m not a huge fan of the lying and this one kind of backfired.
Dentist Buy Back
Many dentists are now offering kids money for their candy. The going rate? $1 per pound of candy. Some dentists send the candy to troops overseas along with a toothbrush, others dump it. This idea is simple and once you’ve found someone in your area who is doing this, you’re set. The drawback is your kid has to be willing to part with the candy for a few bucks. Might not work for many kids.
Parent Buy Back
This is similar to the Dentist Buy Back but this time the “buyer” is you. You can “buy” your kid’s candy for whatever you decide is fair. This mom even buys her daughter’s candy back in exchange for better candy. Sound crazy? Check out her reasons why and you might just fall in love with this idea.
Conduct Candy Experiments
This idea comes from Mothering.com and it wonderful for curious little tykes. The idea is basically to use the candy for science experiments instead of eating it. What happens when you put a blue Jolly Rancher in a cup of water? What about that box of Nerds? Can you use the rainbow water to paint a picture? Most kids love to experiment and I might just be utilizing this one on Tuesday morning. On the positive side, you’ll be teaching your preschooler some science and possibly art. Also, this is wonderful time together that just screams for education on what’s in candy and junk food. The main drawback is that it requires creativity and can make a mess. Oh, and I can’t guarantee that a few nibbles won’t occur in-between experiments.
Update: In 2012, I decided to give this an idea a shot with my 4.5 year old daughter. It was the day after Halloween and I casually mentioned the idea of doing experiments with her candy. Much to my surprise, she was thrilled with the idea. Out came all our shot glasses, measuring cups, a demi pitcher of water, kid friendly knives, cutting boards, and stir sticks. For the next 2 hours (no, that is not a typo), she sat there at the dining room table opening packets of candy, cutting items in bitty pieces, and mixing them together. She was interested in the color combinations, which candies fizzled and which wouldn’t dissolve. The result was a plethora of glasses, jars and bowls filled with colors upon colors along with some serious goo at bottom. She used up a good 75-85% of her candy this way and didn’t miss it a bit. I must say, even I was surprised at how much fun she had. One interesting observation on my part, was how the candy smelled. To be frank? It actually smelled toxic! I know, total shocker. I think it was all the citric acid, chemicals and other fun ingredients. The true test is that this year, she is already prepared for her experiments and is begging me to buy her some “real” science vials for her candy project. Yes, this idea is messy, but it’s something that worked great for our family and greatly reduced the amount of candy on hand.
Consume & Dump
This one may work better for the older ones. The kid gets to eat as much as they like for X amount of time (that evening, one day, etc.) and then the rest goes into the trash. They might be sick the next day, but hey, maybe they’ll start to understand that this stuff is crap. Other similar ideas, letting kids choose a certain number of pieces, only letting them have their favorites; you get the idea.
While all these ideas sound great, there can be unintended consequences. Check out this blog post on the “How to Control Your Kids’ Candy Consumption Con” as she lays out some compelling reasons why trying to control the candy might not be the best idea. Another mom echos a similar sentiment in her story when she realized her kids had started hiding and lying about their candy.
The bottom line is even if your kid eats their entire pillowcase of candy, it probably won’t be the end of the world (got a tummy ache? Click here for a wonderful, tummy soothing, Ginger Mint tea you can make at home). The focus here should really be on educating your kids on healthy choices and nutrition, and allowing them to make smart choices for themselves. This is really the only way to resolve the candy battle once and for all.
Have you heard about other creative ideas for Halloween candy? Please let us know in your comment so we can add them for next year.
Special thanks to my wonderful Mamatoto mother’s group and the SB WAPF Co-Leader for inspiring this blog post.
Image: © Iperl | Dreamstime.com