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Safe Halloween

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My first-born was seven months old on his first Halloween; I was excited and ready to jump into this holiday that was new and strange for me. I was born and raised in Italy and we simply do not celebrate Halloween. So I jumped at the first chance I got to bundle up my infant with a pumpkin costume and take him door to door for candy. Of course the candy was all for me and dad, but all that sugar did pass through my breast milk, so baby got it too.


I learned a lot from that night. One thing I learned is that the appropriate costume can make this event safe and enjoyable.


Not all costumes are created equal. There are specific things parents need to look for to keep their kids from getting hurt because of their Halloween costumes.


Costumes with dark colors, such as the black Scream mask with black clothing, keep children hidden. This makes it difficult for drivers to see children who step into the road, increasing the risk that a child will be hit by a car. It also prevents parents from seeing their children easily. A child in dark clothing could wander away from the group and be difficult to spot. Using lighter colors enables adults to observe children easily and prevent accidents.


Large costumes can be dangerous too if they keep a child from seeing his feet. Steps, curbs, and sidewalk debris become potential hazards if a child cannot see to walk over the obstacles. As cute as that pumpkin costume is, it may not be the safest choice.


Elastic wrists, ankles, necks, and waists need to be loose. If they are too tight, they will cut off circulation and cause pain.


Costumes must be checked for loose pieces or materials that will catch on bushes. For example, butterfly wings made of netting could easily catch on overhanging branches, and cause a child to become stuck or to lose her balance. To be safe, make sure that all costume parts are fastened securely to the outfit and will not become hooked onto shrubs.


Do not use costumes with hoods that cover the ears and deafen noises. Children need to be able to hear adults clearly in case of emergencies. If an adult calls instructions or suddenly tells them to stop, there may be no time for children to say, “What?” Adults can check this ahead of time by placing the material over their own ears and asking another adult to speak to them.


Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for kids filled with costumes and candy. It still can be when parents take proper safety precautions, including choosing a safe Halloween costume.


How have I prevented my kids from eating all that unrefined sugar? Here’s what we used to do at my house. When my kids came back from their “hunt,” we spread the candies on the table, throw away everything that is not sealed, and make three piles: best, okay, and definite maybes.


They can eat a moderate number of the best and keep the rest for later. By the time the third day comes around we have eliminated the maybes and some of the okays. With good home cooking, cakes, and cookies, as long as they choose between the two, they will not complain about it.

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