It’s that time of year again, Halloween is right around the corner, and if you are a parent of toddlers you may be wondering what the best Halloween candy for toddlers is to buy. We’ve got you covered with our top picks and some tips for navigating this sugary season with little ones.
As a dietitian, I fully believe in allowing toddlers to enjoy the experience of Halloween. This will inevitably involve some candy, but the type of candy is something that parents can and should have some control over. This is why we created this guide to help you navigate the Halloween season with little ones, and make choosing the best Halloween candy for toddlers a little easier.
When it comes to candy for toddlers there are a few things to consider like safety, age appropriateness, and nutrition. A one-year-old toddler is going to have very different chewing skills, nutrition recommendations, and safety concerns than an older three-year-old toddler.
As a mom of two toddlers, I know it can feel difficult to separate what each child can have, which is why I think it’s a great idea to choose non-choking hazards and age-appropriate snacks and candy that everyone can enjoy for the Halloween experience.
Toddlers are very tuned into being restricted, which is something we ideally want to avoid. So instead of creating a lot of separation and differences between what siblings can enjoy on Halloween, I like to take the approach of offering mostly options that everyone can say YES to.
Creating A Healthy Halloween Family Plan
Having a plan for how you will navigate Halloween as a family with young children is the best way to set your family up for success and a lot of fun and enjoyment. Rather than stressing about how much candy your kids are having or what is safe, you will know exactly how you want to approach the holiday and can lean into the fun that is Halloween! The following are my top tips for creating a healthy Halloween experience for the whole family.
Serve A Balanced Meal Before
If your child goes into Halloween time with a full belly, ideally filled with a balanced meal that has some protein, healthy fats, and fiber they are less likely to overindulge on Halloween candy.
This may still happen and sometimes it is okay to let children learn their food limits and how too much of anything can feel not so great. But going into Halloween with a full belly will help keep their blood sugar more even and reduce that desire to overindulge on Halloween sweets, as well as hopefully reduce those big sugar highs and crashes.
Make A Candy Plan
Every family is going to have their own boundaries when it comes to Halloween candy, but one piece of advice I like to give every family is to make a candy plan. This may be different based on the ages of your children, but it’s good to know how you want to handle candy ahead of time and even talk to your older toddlers and older siblings about it ahead of time.
For example, during the week of Halloween, you could have a jar of Halloween candy that you offer with meals. On Halloween, you could ask your young toddler to pick three pieces of candy, and then remove the rest. If they ask for candy the next day you can offer them some more, if they don’t you could just get rid of the remaining candy or store it out of sight for another time.
For older kids who really are attached to the candy they got, you could let them have as much as they want for a few days. I know that this can feel uncomfortable for parents, especially anyone who has a history of restricting these sorts of foods, or who focuses on mostly whole foods in their home.
However, occasionally this can actually help children learn how much is too much and can help their intuitive eating in the future. They could end up getting a stomach ache from too much sugar, which is something you could talk about after and it could turn into a learning experience.
After a few days, you could then talk to them about choosing a certain number of pieces for the week and donating the rest to kids who maybe were not able to go trick or treating. Or you could continue to choose to let your kids have as much as they like. Again there really is no right way and each family will have their own limits based on their own children.
Want more tips for feeding picky toddlers? Check out some of our other toddler-specific nutrition content!
- Healthy Snack Ideas For Toddlers (That They Will Actually Eat)
- The Best Milk Alternatives For Toddlers
- The Best Multivitamin For Picky Eaters Dietitian Approved
Celebrate The Non-Candy Parts Of Halloween With Your Kids
It can be easy to forget that Halloween can be about so much more than candy. In our house, I really like to bring a lot of fun and attention to the non-candy activities we can do. From reading Halloween books to planning out art and sensory activities, to decorating and baking for the “spooky season” there are many ways to celebrate Halloween without focusing solely on candy.
This is also a great way to help kids with food allergies or young toddlers who may not be ready for a lot of the typical Halloween candy to really get involved in the season.
Embrace The Season
Remember that Halloween is a short season, and if your child ends up eating more Halloween candies then you are comfortable with, try to remember that the season is short and you can shift back into your more normal routine after it is over.
We also want to be teaching children that all foods fit, to help encourage a healthy relationship with food that is free from restriction and food labels. So lean into the fun of the Halloween season, set some boundaries that feel good for your family, and remember that a little too much candy isn’t going to ruin your child’s nutrition for the long run.
Halloween Candy Safety Concerns To Watch Out For
As a dietitian, the biggest concern I have about Halloween and toddlers is food safety.
Unfortunately, most Halloween candy that people buy to give out on Halloween are chewy, hard, or includes large nut pieces, all of which can cause choking and food allergy concerns for small toddlers.
Most Halloween candy will also include artificial food colorings, which have been studied for their neurobehavioral effects on children and I personally recommend avoiding them if possible.
Understanding what Halloween candy is considered a choking hazard or contains allergens if you have a child with food allergies is an essential part of keeping your children safe on Halloween so everyone can have fun and enjoy the holiday.
Types Of Halloween Candy To Avoid For Toddlers
The following types of candy should be avoided for toddlers as they are high choking hazard risks, and not appropriate for children in this age group. While toddlers between the ages of 2-3 may be able to safely eat more candy options on Halloween, they still are at an age when there is a high risk of choking.
Combined with the excitement of Halloween, and a lot of eating on the go, I prefer to stay clear of choking hazard candy for this age group.
Small children who are closer to three, may be ready to start practicing eating higher-risk foods like peanut butter M&M’s, but this should always be done seated in a calm environment at home. Trying out new hard-to-eat foods and chewing skills on the go is never a good idea.
The following are some of the most popular candies that you will most likely come across and should be avoided for toddlers:
- Blow Pops
- Tootsie Pops
- Jolly Ranchers
Small Round Candy & Small Pieces
- Chocolate M&Ms
- Reeses Pieces
Candy With Whole Nuts
- Chocolate M&Ms
Chewy Candy and Sticky Candies
- Laffy Taffy
- Tootsie Rolls
- Jelly Beans
- Candy Corn
- Sour Patch Kids
- Gummy Worms
- Gummy Bears
- Fruit Snacks
- Swedish Fish
Should One-Year-Olds Have Halloween Candy?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not introducing added sugar until age two. This is because really young toddlers are still developing their flavor preferences and nutritionally added sugar is just not something that is necessary in a young child’s diet.
However, I know from experience that once you have multiple children this is easier said than done. While I personally did really well holding off on added sugar until my first daughter was closer to two, for my second she wanted everything her sister was having so that made things much harder.
This is where moderation and awareness are key as you don’t want to make sweet foods feel restricted, but we also know that a lot of added sugar also isn’t ideal for small children.
In our family, this looks like giving my one-year-old some ice cream when we are out as a family and her sister is getting some, but not necessarily offering the cookies I made or adding maple syrup to her oatmeal when she isn’t even aware of it in the first place.
The same goes for Halloween. Because one-year-olds are so young they really won’t even understand what candy is or need any candy to have a fun Halloween experience. Most likely the only reason your one-year-old would “want” candy would be because they saw a sibling or you have some.
In this situation, I would just offer some of their favorite packaged snacks that will feel similar to the experience of opening up a candy wrapper, and they probably will care less about having any actual candy. Your older toddler will probably even want some.
When my daughter was one she had so much fun picking the candy out of bowls and walking around our neighborhood, but she could have cared less about actually eating any of the candy she picked. Instead, we just brought her some of the usual snacks she loved, which she was just as excited to open.
Best Candy Alternatives For One-Year-Olds
One-year-olds really have no concept of “candy” which is why choosing some creative non-candy Halloween options is a great idea for these little ones. Most likely your bigger toddlers and older siblings will love them too!
The Best Halloween Candy For Toddlers Ages 2-3
The following list is filled with our top picks for the best Halloween candy for toddlers. These are our favorite halloween candy as they are safe for young toddlers, and also made with some better ingredients.
While some of these options may not be what you commonly find out trick or treating, they would be great options to stock at your house or trade for your toddler’s trick-or-treating candy when you get home. I also love this allergy-friendly candy list that was created by Kids With Food Allergies, and is an excellent resource for those families with kids with food allergies, or families who want allergy-friendly options for neighborhood kids.