How to Prepare Your Child
to Go Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for kids – dressing up in cool costumes, attending festivals, telling and listening to ghost stories and, best of all, heading out into the neighborhood to trick-or-treat for candy. While you want your child to have a good time, you also want to ensure that he has a safe night.

Costume safety

Next to the candy, the costume is the most important part of trick-or-treating. Whether you opt for a something store-bought or homemade, there are some things you can do to ensure you choose a fun but healthy option.

  • Buy a high-quality mask or use non-toxic makeup or face paint instead. If you choose a mask, make sure it doesn’t obstruct your child's vision.
  • Ensure that any fabric used to make the costume is fire-resistant.
  • Be careful with accessories like swords. Make sure the tips are not too sharp, and try to avoid weapons that are too realistic.
  • Put a strip of reflective tape on the back of your child’s costume so that any oncoming cars can see him while walking down the street or sidewalk. Costumes that come in white or lighter colors are also safer because they are easier for drivers to see as dusk sets in. You may consider having your child carry a glow stick.
  • Avoid costumes with long pants and skirts or floppy shoes. Pottery Barn Kids offers a number of safe, fun Halloween costumes for kids.

Should you stay or should you go?

If you are wondering whether or not you should accompany your child, consider this: Most experts recommend that you tag along if your child is under the age of 12. For older children, consider allowing a trusted teenage sibling or babysitter chaperone instead. You may also consider putting together a group of trick-or-treaters that includes your child’s local friends. Parents in a particular neighborhood can even get together and map out a route for their children to stick to or plan a Halloween party to cut back on trick-or-treating time. Split up responsibilities, such as one person buys food, while the other buys Halloween decor.

If you opt not to go, make sure your child knows who to trust in the case of an emergency. This includes familiar adults in the neighborhood and police officers. Make sure your child knows your name, your home address and your phone number and can recite them to a police officer or trusted adult if he or she gets lost. If your child does not have a cell phone, you may consider letting him take a relative’s for the evening. Other things you should review with children going trick-or-treating alone include:

  • Where to trick-or-treat. If your child should stick to certain streets or neighborhoods, make sure he or she is familiar with them. Consider driving the route during the daytime. Also remind your child to only stop at homes with appropriate outdoor lighting on or homes where they know the residents.
  • What time to be home. Set a curfew and make sure your child has a phone or watch so they can keep up with the time.
  • Not to go inside. Remind your child to stay on the front porch or stoop of any house visited and never to go inside.
  • Traffic safety. Even if your child knows to look both ways before crossing a street, how to wait for walk signals and to stay on the sidewalk, review the rules a couple of times before the big night.

What to send with your child

Whether you are accompanying your child or sending them out alone or with a chaperone, you may want to make sure he takes along some of the following items.

  • Extra house key
  • Flashlight
  • Cellphone
  • Treat bags or bucket for gathering candy
  • Emergency Identification Card
  • Map of the trick-or-treating route

Bringing home the candy

When your child receives candy, remind them not to eat anything until you have inspected it. Check candy wrappers for tampering and throw out homemade goods or unwrapped food from people you do not know. You may also want to discuss with your child how much candy they can eat each day after Halloween to make sure that the loot is enjoyed in a healthy manner.