Halloween night, a time of year filled with spooky fun and creative costumes, often also brings a deluge of sugary temptations. As a holistic nutrition specialist and a parent of young children, I understand the importance of finding healthier alternatives to the traditional high fructose corn syrup-filled Halloween candies. This is why we are compiling a list of suggestions for Healthy Halloween Treats for Babies and Young Kids.
Going trick or treating in the best Halloween costumes each year is a big part of Halloween!
But when we are looking to maintain healthy principles for our child's diet, Halloween can be a challenging time for unprepared parents.
This article will guide you through the best candy alternatives and non-food items to make this Halloween fun as well as a nutritious and enjoyable experience for your little ones, including healthy Halloween treats for babies and kids.
Things to Consider
We all know that too much candy can lead to a sugar rush followed by a sugar crash.
Traditional candies are often packed with artificial colors, flavors, and added sugars, which can have a negative impact on their health.
As parents, it's essential to promote a healthier Halloween while still preserving the fun of this exciting time of year.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's advisable to avoid refined sugars for babies until they are at least 2 years old.
This recommendation underscores the importance of providing healthier alternatives during Halloween and beyond.
Another important consideration is to avoid honey in babies younger than 12 months old due to the risk of botulism.
It is also essential to remember that hard candies are a choking hazard for babies and younger kids.
Additionally, some children may have food allergies and sensitivities, which makes it even more important to be aware of what type of candy our kids are consuming.
Because of these considerations, we parents have to get creative to protect our kids' health while ensuring they have a fun and memorable holiday experience.
In this article, we'll explore natural ingredients, nutritious foods, and non-candy treats.
Let's delve into the best candy alternatives that will make your Halloween celebrations both exciting and health-conscious, ensuring that your kids have a memorable and healthier Halloween experience.
Raising kids that are aware of the foods that they eat and how it affects their bodies, is an essential lesson to introduce early.
From the beginning, they can learn to pay attention to what is available and how it makes them feel when they eat certain foods.
Listening to our bodies is such an important part of having a healthy relationship with food.
In fact, events like Halloween, Christmas, and birthday parties present a great learning opportunity to make good choices.
Admittedly, is nearly impossible to control everything that goes into your kids' mouths, but teaching them how to check in with themselves is crucial to developing a healthy awareness.
For instance, when they eat lots of candy, they may get a tummy ache. This is our body telling us to slow down next time.
My young children understand about ingredients too. They ask me before grabbing a treat or snack that is offered to them because they know that some packaged foods have "chemicals in them."
My kids are still very young with a very strong sweet tooth, so they don't understand about limiting sugary foods just yet.
Foods with too much sugar provide a short energy boost and then a crash and they need more and more to try to sustain the energy.
When balanced with foods that have protein and healthy fats, they can sustain that energy for longer. These are the beginning stages of learning to use food as fuel in the right way!
We all also understand about picking our battles. For now, when it comes to Halloween foods and treats, we walk them through the process of the holiday and give them an option at the end. This is a popular new trend for parents to offer the option of the switch witch.
Switch witch is a great way to preserve the fun of Halloween, without loading up on awful ingredients and a lot of sugar that can cause harm to little developing bodies. It can be done in a variety of ways.
One is similar to the tooth fairy, where they leave the bag of processed candy out for the switch witch to come and bring one desired toy or a handful of non-candy Halloween treats like small toys, coloring books, or temporary tattoos that replace the originally collected treat bag.
Another option is to swap the candy for a fun snack that is homemade or made with acceptable ingredients. Perhaps it is a few cookies made into fun shapes, a cupcake made with healthy ingredients, granola bars, or even healthy chocolate bars.
Otherwise, you would swap the candy for clean candy and allow them to have a few pieces of candy for a treat or between snack times every so often throughout the following days and weeks or longer. Stay tuned for a list of our favorite clean candy brands and products.
Switch Witch is a great way for families to incorporate a new tradition that helps kids practice making healthy choices in a fun way!
The Problem With Traditional Candy
Most Halloween candy that lines the shelves is highly processed with awful ingredients.
It's a big deal when it comes to the nutritional value you're offering to your children, even on this fun-filled occasion. Opting for a diet that excludes processed foods, especially includes dangerous items like Halloween candy.
Many Halloween candies are notorious for containing a lot of added sugar. This excess sugar intake can lead to a sugar rush, followed by an energy crash—a not-so-fun time for kids and parents alike.
Artificial Ingredients and Dyes
Besides the added sugar, candy often harbors artificial flavors and food dyes. These synthetic additives not only lack nutritional value but can also have adverse effects, especially in children.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
This processed sweetener is a frequent culprit in processed candies. It not only contributes to excess sugar but also lacks any nutritional benefits.
Consumption of HFCS has been associated with various health problems, including diabetes and liver disease, making it far from a good bet for your little ones. (Learn more about healthy sweetener alternatives and liver-protective foods and drinks in our exclusive guides!
When it comes to nutritional value, most traditional Halloween candies offer little to none. They're essentially empty calories that provide no essential nutrients your children need for growth and development.
The Best Way Forward
Recognizing the dangers of highly processed Halloween candies is a great opportunity to make a change.
Opting for better alternatives, such as natural and organic candy or homemade treats with real ingredients like cacao dark chocolate, can be the best way to provide a fun and safe Halloween while prioritizing your children's health.
In the next section, we'll explore the best Halloween candy alternatives and non-food items that not only keep the spirit of Halloween alive but also promote a healthier and happier celebration, even for the big kids.
Best Halloween Candy Swaps
When it comes to Halloween candy, there are cleaner alternatives available that can satisfy those sweet cravings without the drawbacks of artificial ingredients and excessive sugars.
Let's take a closer look at some popular Halloween candy choices and compare the ingredients of traditional brands with cleaner options from YumEarth and Smart Sweets.
Traditional Brand (e.g., Jelly Belly): Ingredients - Sugar, corn syrup, modified food starch, artificial flavors, artificial colors (various).
Cleaner Brand (Surf Sweet): Ingredients - Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto), Natural Flavors, Confectioner’s Glaze, Carnauba Wax, Organic Sunflower Oil.Surf Sweets Organic Jelly B...Shop on Amazon
Traditional Brand (e.g., Haribo): Ingredients - Corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, dextrose, citric acid, artificial and natural flavors, artificial colors (various).
Cleaner Brand (Smart Sweets): Ingredients - Soluble tapioca fiber, allulose, gelatin, chicory root fiber, malic acid, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), natural fruit flavor, coconut oil, and stevia extract.SMART SWEETS Fruity Gummy B...Shop on Amazon
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Traditional Brand (Reese's): Ingredients - milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, lecithin, PGPR), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ and citric acid (to maintain freshness).
Cleaner Brand (Justin's): Ingredients - Organic dark chocolate (organic cocoa butter, organic chocolate), organic peanuts, organic cane sugar, organic peanut flour, organic palm oil, sea salt.Justin's Organic Milk Choco...Shop on Amazon
Traditional Brand (Jolly Rancher): Ingredients - Corn syrup, sugar, contains 2% or less of malic acid, natural and artificial flavor, artificial color (various).
Cleaner Brand (YumEarth): Ingredients - Organic cane sugar, organic rice syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, colored with concentrate (carrot, blackcurrant).YumEarth Organic Fruit Drop...Shop on Amazon
Traditional Brand (Brach's): Ingredients - Sugar, corn syrup, confectioner's glaze, salt, dextrose, gelatin, sesame oil, artificial flavor, honey, yellow 6, yellow 5, red 3.
Cleaner Brand (YumEarth): Ingredients - Organic cane sugar, organic brown rice syrup, natural colors (organic concentrated apple, organic carrot, organic pumpkin, organic black currant), natural flavors.YumEarth Organic Chewys Fru...Shop on Amazon
These cleaner options from YumEarth, Justin's, and Smart Sweets offer a more wholesome and natural choice compared to their traditional counterparts. By choosing these alternatives, you can still enjoy the Halloween spirit without compromising on your commitment to clean and healthy living.YumEarth Organic Fruit Flav...Shop on Amazon
Some other cleaner candy brands include(but are not limited to): Lily's, Bear, Unreal, Hu, Alter Eco, and Theo's.LILY'S Dark Chocolate Style...Shop on Amazon Bear - Real Fruit Yoyos Var...Shop on Amazon UNREAL Dark Chocolate Peanu...Shop on Amazon Hu Hunks Vegan Chocolate Co...Shop on Amazon Alter Eco | Silk Velvet Tru...Shop on Amazon Theo Chocolate Organic Milk...Shop on Amazon
Non-Candy Fun Treat Options
While candy may be the star of Halloween, there are good reasons to consider non-candy treats for your Halloween party or to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
These options not only save little ones from excessive sugar but also promote a fun and healthier Halloween experience. Here are some fantastic alternatives that can be the best part of your next year's celebration:
Mini Water Bottles:
- Good idea to keep the kids hydrated during their trick-or-treating adventures.
- Provides a break from sugary treats and keeps their blood sugar stable.
Small Toys and Trinkets:
- Great choice for creative and entertaining surprises.
- Can be good options for little ones who can't have candy for dietary or health reasons.
Stickers and Temporary Tattoos:
- Good source of fun that kids can enjoy long after Halloween.
- No candy wrappers to deal with, making them a neat and tidy choice.
Glow Sticks and Glow-in-the-Dark Accessories:
- Great ideas for enhancing Halloween costumes and adding an element of safety.
- Especially good for trick-or-treating at night.
Miniature Coloring Books and Crayons:
- Good options to foster creativity and provide a quiet activity.
- Kids can enjoy them on a regular basis, unlike candy.
Mini Pumpkins or Decorative Gourds:
- A unique and eco-friendly choice for a Halloween party or as decorations.
- Can be a great addition to your Halloween-themed home decor.
Healthy Snack Packs:
- A good idea for those who prefer an edible treat with nutritional value.
- Consider items like trail mix, dried fruit, or nut packs as alternatives to candy. Nuts are a good source of protein which helps temper sugar spikes. Just be aware of potential allergic reactions, for those who are susceptible.
Remember that the best part of Halloween isn't just about the candy; it's about the joy and memories created during this festive time.
Non-candy options provide an opportunity to add variety to your treats, cater to dietary needs, and promote a fun and balanced Halloween experience for everyone involved.
Whether it's this year or next year, consider mixing in these non-candy treats to make your Halloween celebration even more special.
Candy is typically not recommended for children under the age of 2 years old. It can be a choking hazard as well as contain harmful amounts of sugar for such a young age. Low-sugar sweet treats may be a healthy alternative like homemade chocolate avocado pudding made with low amounts of maple syrup or monk fruit. Organic apple sauce is another nice sweet treat for babies with a sweetness to it.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends avoiding candy and sweets for babies ages 2 and under. After that, it is important to teach about sweets and their ingredients to make the best choices for developing bodies.
Healthy treats like apples, granola bars, trail mixes, or organic snack packs can be a wonderful healthy Halloween treat. Otherwise, there are organic candy brands with clean ingredients like Hu, Unreal, Yum Earth, Lily's, and more. Be sure to check the ingredients and amount of added sugar.
Some non-candy Halloween treats are fidget toys, crayons or markers and coloring books, puzzles, craft kits, action figures, dolls, barrettes and hair ties, slime, bracelets, glow sticks, mini foam footballs, and any small toys or gadgets that interest the given age. Another option is doing a switch witch, which means having the kids pick out one medium toy they have been wanting and swapping all of their candy for it after trick or treating.
Yes, there are organic gummy snacks that have better ingredients without artificial colors and flavors. Or, you can make your own!
As we wrap up our exploration of healthier Halloween treat options, it's clear that making thoughtful choices can transform this spooky season into a time of both fun and wellness.
By opting for cleaner candies and non-candy treats, you can ensure that the little goblins and ghouls in your life have a Halloween that's not just memorable but also nurturing.
Remember, the best part of Halloween isn't just about the sweets; it's about the moments and traditions you create with your loved ones.
We invite you to try out these ideas and share your experiences in the comments below. Let's exchange tips and stories to make Halloween a healthier and happier time for families everywhere.
And if you found this article helpful, why not spread the word?
Share it on your social media platforms(buttons at the top of the article), and don't forget to follow us for more valuable insights and subscribe to our newsletter for ongoing healthy living tips for families.
Together, we can make every season a celebration of mindful and healthful living.
Have a fun and safe holiday!