Enjoy Halloween Candy with a Challenge
By the Kids Place Pediatric Speech Therapists

What’s a parent to do when your child has a three-pound bag of candy after trick-or-treating?  While some families allow candy consumption in moderation, here are some other ideas for limiting your child’s candy intake:

  • Agree in advance on a set number of candies your child will be able to choose from their bag/bucket
  • For older children, agree on a percentage of their total number of candies
  • Agree on special activities/items for which your child may “trade-in” their candy (books, videos, games, etc.)
  • Use candy for arts and crafts

For the candies your children do eat, consider the following ideas to help develop speech and language skills:

  • Use words to describe the qualities of your candy (sweet, sour, crunchy, soft, sticky)
  • Have your child imitate oral-motor movements while enjoying their candy (For example, holding a lollipop, have your child protrude tongue forward then to the right/left to touch it. You can also practice holding the lollipop with lips only)
  • Encourage longer sentences by offering your child choices of candy that differ only by one quality (“Do you want the big square chocolate or the small square chocolate?”)
  • For nonverbal children, model signs for “eat,” “more” or “candy” and encourage imitation before reinforcing.
  • Have your child follow directions incorporating the candy (“First, get the red one, then, get the blue one”).

It is especially important to be aware of choking risks.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of choking episodes in children under 14 are caused by hard candy.  An additional 12.8% is caused by other candies.  This amounts to nearly 30% of choking incidents from candy.

Halloween foods that have the highest choking risk include:

  • Gum
  • Peanuts
  • Hard candies
  • Jelly beans
  • Gum drops
  • Gummy bears
  • Licorice
  • Fruit snacks
  • Raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Caramel
  • Candy corn
  • Taffy
  • Marshmallows

Lastly, be cautious of non-food items that have a high potential risk for choking.  Especially small toys or balls/marbles which a diameter of less than 1 and 1/3 inches.

This Halloween, allow your children to enjoy some of the candies from trick-or-treating, but challenge them to do more than just simply eating the candies!

Happy Halloween!