Halloween and little ones – how do you manage candy with your toddlers?
Halloween is just around the corner and there’s nothing cuter than seeing toddlers literally toddling around in overstuffed and CUTE Halloween costumes! But if your toddler is under the age of two, this Halloween season can be a little confusing. Because although big brother or sister can explore and consume his or her Halloween stash freely (to start) and then with some structure, the recommendation for kids under the age of two is no added sugar. Sorry little one. So, what’s a parent to do when your little one tries to eat their sibling’s Halloween candy – wrappers and all? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with some info on sugar and some great sugar-free Halloween treat alternatives.
Here’s a reality check: The recommendation for babies and toddlers under two is no added sugar. That means – no candy, chocolate, sugar-sweetened cereals, desserts made with added sugar, sugary drinks etc. But let’s be real… my kids had birthday cake on their first birthday, and my youngest definitely had more sugar before two years of age than his older brother and sister. That’s likely a reality when there are older siblings. But, added sugar shouldn’t be a part of your child’s diet for a few reasons: 1) they don’t really know the difference, so why not wait until they’re older and feeding (as well as your little one’s palate) has become more established, and 2) sugar does not provide nutrients of value to your baby or toddler’s diet. Sure, sugar is sweet, and chocolate is amazing, but little kids have little tummy space, and it’s our job as parents to fill that precious space with nutrient-dense whole foods.
Added sugar versus natural sugar – there’s a difference
According to the World Health Organization, children and adults should reduce their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. This roughly translates to no more than 25 grams of sugar per day (or 6 tsp). You’d be surprised to realize how quickly sugar adds up in your diet! The key to remember with these recommendations is that there’s a difference between added sugar versus natural sugar. Naturally occurring sugar would include lactose (a naturally occurring milk sugar), as well as fruit sugar (fructose) that comes from…well…fruit! So, if you’re looking for sweet-filled treats for your toddler, my recommendation would be to go the natural sugar route. Here are my favourite sugar-alternative Halloween treat ideas for toddlers.
Themed stickers. What kid doesn’t love stickers? There are so many great Halloween themed options that are fun to stick just about everywhere.
Homemade snack bags. Why not fill a Halloween treat bag with yummy toddler-friendly finger foods? Whole-grain cereal, Baby Gourmet Mushies, Baby Gourmet fruit and veggie pouches, and homemade no-sugar-added baby cookies make for a sweet treat that toddlers can enjoy.
Monster or Zombie muffins. Whatever you decide to call your GREEN muffins, one thing that’s sure is the amount of nutrition that these spooky treats contain. These Green Monster Blender Muffins have a whopping FIVE cups of spinach and are naturally sweetened with bananas (and a little bit of maple syrup that you can actually leave out).
Colouring pages. There are lots of fun Halloween themed colouring pages to print on the internet, or head to your local dollar store to find an entire colouring book of spooky images!
Anything pumpkin. Baked goods with pumpkin are oh-so-delicious and tend to be lower in added sugar because pumpkin adds a yummy sweet flavour! Combined with fall favourites of cinnamon and nutmeg, you can’t lose. Try these Easy Wholegrain Pumpkin Spice Muffins. You can even make them into mini muffins by reducing the cooking duration. Perfect for little hands.
Squeeze pouches: Baby Gourmet has SO MANY amazing fruit and veggie pouches with several flavour combinations that babies and toddlers absolutely love (containing no added sugar and a whole lot of nutrition).
Toy spiders and snakes. These creepy crawly creatures are sure to entertain your toddler for minutes upon minutes. But seriously, small toys (but not too small) that are Halloween related are the perfect distraction from all the candy wrappers.