Halloween is many kids’ favorite time of year. Between the fun costumes, parties and snacks, there is a little bit of everything for kids to love. As those of us in pediatric dentistry know, however, Halloween can also be a time where kids are more at risk for many dental problems, including cavities.
8 Ideas for Halloween Treat Alternatives that are Better for Teeth
Many of the treats kids love during Halloween are over-laden with sugar. While we’d never tell parents they can’t let their kids have sugar, we do know that this time of year it’s harder than ever to make sure that kids brush after every sugary snack.
So how can parents find a better balance between better-for-you treats for their kids and trick-or-treaters? Here are 8 ideas for Halloween treat alternatives that are better for your kids’ teeth.
Mandarin Orange “Pumpkins”
This is one of our most favorite non-candy Halloween ideas! Buy a bag or box of mandarin oranges. Use stickers or a non-toxic marker to draw cute Jack-o-lantern faces on the skin. You can get the kids to help on this one, too. The best part is that it’s still a sweet treat…it’s just all dressed up and better for you!
Side note: oranges have a high natural sugar content, as well as a natural acidity. But their sweetness is also accompanied by healthy doses of Vitamin C and other minerals kids need. So while kids should still brush soon after eating this treat, parents can take a little comfort in this healthier Halloween treat alternative to candy.
Pretzels, goldfish or chip snack packs
For parents who don’t want to buy candy for trick-or-treaters but still want a packaged snack to give away, salty snacks can come to the rescue. These types of salty snacks be found individually packaged and are great to drop into trick or treat bags. They’re also typically sugar free, which makes them a better option than mouthfuls of candy.
Kids with braces should be careful with pretzels, though. And, like all snack foods that are calorie dense but not nutrition dense, it’s best to enjoy these snacks in moderation.
Mini bottles of water
Now here’s a Halloween treat that isn’t just better for you, it’s 100% good for you! You and your kids can even make your own labels to fix on the outside of the bottles. Try a spooky message or even add some monster faces. Mini bottles fit perfectly in trick-or-treat bags and buckets, and kids can enjoy right away as they run through the neighborhood.
Organic juice boxes
If your kids prefer a drink with a little more flavor, you can give out organic juice boxes. While these drinks tend to have some natural sugars in them, they’re not usually over-sweetened and have some healthy vitamins and minerals too. Plus, this is another item where you and the kids can decorate the box ahead of time with stickers or handwritten messages.
Natural fruit leather
Most kids can’t tell the difference between sugary processed fruit rolls and natural fruit leather. In fact, lots of kids like fruit leather better, since the flavors are more pronounced. Like the other fruit-based snacks mentioned above, fruit leather does have natural sugars, but isn’t without healthful benefits. Many brands have them in conveniently packaged single servings, too!
Local honey sticks
Every year, more studies are published about the healthy benefits of honey. It helps with allergies, is a natural energy booster and can even assist with triggering tryptophan levels so kids get a better night’s sleep. Honey sticks are a perfectly portioned sweet treat for kids, so it’s easy to monitor over-indulgence. Plus, parents can sneak away a few to include in their next few cups of morning tea.
Popcorn snack packs
Popcorn is a healthier-for-you snack that kids and adults both love. Many companies are now providing their lightly flavored popcorn in tiny snack packs. They’re great to drop into trick-or-treat bags and you won’t feel (too) guilty letting your kid have a second pack on Beggar’s night. Our only small warning is to watch out for loose kernels, which can irritate gums, and kids with braces may want to swap out popcorn for a different snack.
Toys and Novelties
If you want to avoid candy and snacks altogether this Halloween, there are lots of seasonally appropriate toys and novelties for kids this time of year. Slap bracelets, erasers, stamps, stickers, mini Play-doh and pencils are fun to give out to trick-or-treaters. We promise–kids really don’t mind having something to play or create with after all their sweet treats are gone!
Better for You Halloween Treats
No matter what healthier-for-you snack (or novelty item!) you choose for Halloween, we are fortunate to be living in a time where more and more parents and companies are providing non-candy alternatives for Halloween. With good oral hygiene habits at home and regular teeth cleaning exams, you can make sure your kids have healthy smiles into adulthood.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. Contact our skilled dentists for a dental exam or professional medical advice.
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