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Creative Child

Parenting: Trick-or-Treating with Babies

by Liska Myers

In our community of mothers, one question comes up every October, "Are you going trick-or-treating this year?"

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While the majority of parents with older children prepare for a night of calling on neighbors, there is more variety in the answers of parents with babies and toddlers. Naturally, some of the younger ones have an early bed time, or their families have different plans for the evening. But some hesitant about whether their children are too young for this holiday. If a decision has not yet been reached, it is time to weigh the pros and cons of trick-or-treating with your babies.

Coming from a country where Halloween is not widely observed, I was very excited for my son's first Halloween. I started thinking of his costume months before Halloween, but as we approached the date, I realized that he would not be old enough to share my excitement. Babies do not quite realize the importance of being a gnome, a wizard, or a bear, and therefore the essence of the Halloween spirit may be lost on them. Then, you put a funny hat on the baby's head and bring the mirror out, and all of a sudden the little one is all giggles and smiles, and the masquerade actually seems worthwhile.

Making the baby part of the dress-up fun by making or buying a cute costume is irresistible - but mounds of sweets are another traditional feature of the celebration, and doctors strongly discouraging feeding refined sugar to children until after at least their first year. That made our Halloween walk last year a little awkward: a few neighbors who knew our son's age expressed worry over what they could possibly give him. One couple had apples on hand, in addition to sweets, and another gave him a box of m&m's  which immediately supplanted all of his favorite rattles! When one neighbor seemed vexed at what to offer our baby, we were quick to reassure her, "He does not need anything. We just wanted to say hello."

That, in my opinion, is what Halloween offers to babies and toddlers; an opportunity to socialize. Let's admit it: the amounts of candies that children haul in over a night of trick-or-treating cannot be healthy for anyone, even fully-grown adults. Yet, it is so much fun to get dressed and go knocking on friends' and strangers' doors. Babies are perfectly capable of sharing that fun! For the first year of life, my son loved few things more than meeting new people and giving them smiles.

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Of course, going the full route taken by older children can be exhausting for a baby, so last year we visited only about five houses, got a healthy portion of cooing, and returned home to give out candies. After all, you can expect to meet plenty of people on Halloween, even if you stay home!

What are your plans for this Halloween?

Liska Myers is an author of the blog, Adventure in a Box, where she shares ideas on how to make wooden toys, set up a home puppet theatre, and choose the best children's books. Accompanied by her husband and son, she lives and adventures in Ontario, Canada.

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