West Maple Pediatric Dentistry is about more than just healthy teeth! We’re about happy, healthy families! When fun events and happy holidays come together the results can be very sweet, indeed! We want your little pumpkins to really get into the spirit, and to enjoy their indulgences. This month, we’ve put together a list of ways to make October fun, without letting it get scary for your children’s teeth!
A fresh toothbrush is significantly more effective than one that’s nearing its end. Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every 6 months, ideally, every 3. If your child’s toothbrush isn’t showing signs of wear after a few weeks, you may need to go back to monitoring brushing time to ensure proper technique.
Right before Halloween is a great time to replace your child’s toothbrush! The fresh bristles will be better equipped to counter the extra sweets your little sugar will be snacking on for the next few days!
This is also a great time to let them choose their own, or to choose an extra fun brush! Your child is more likely to do a thorough job if they’re excited to brush their teeth, and a fun character, spinning bristles, or a favorite color can be all it takes!
Stock up on fun floss picks, and with especially little ones, have a refresher course in proper technique. If you explain to them that you want them to do an extra great job to prepare for all of the upcoming candy, they’re likely to be slightly better students!
Nobody wants to be the house on the block with lame offerings, but consider skipping candy for your own bowl of treats. You won’t be depriving neighborhood children of sweets, as they’re sure to get more than enough from the other neighbors, school bags, and trunk or treat events, and there are a lot of sweet surprises to choose from when you take candy off the table!
Another Reason to Offer Non-Food Alternatives
This can give you the option of taking part in the teal-pumpkin initiative many families rely on across the nation!
The Teal Pumpkin Project wants to ensure that children with severe food allergies are able to enjoy themselves trick or treating with their families, friends, and neighbors. If you offer 100% Allergen-free treats to your tricksters, you place a teal painted or colored pumpkin outside to signal parents that you’re a safe house to stop at!
A few non-food options include:
- Temporary Tattoos
- Bracelets, Rings, and Necklaces
- Silly String
- Craft Kits
- Glow Sticks
- Bouncy Balls
- Crayons, Erasers, or Fun Paints
- Spooky Pens, Pencils, and Notepads
- Hair bows, Barrettes, Clips
- Themed Socks
- Water Bottles
Note: Items like Play-Dough, lip glosses and balms, and other cosmetics often contain unlisted allergens. Just skip them for now!
Trick or Treat, They’re Plenty Sweet! Pick the One That’s Best to Eat!
One of the many keys to truly enjoying indulgences is to be selective about them! We all know that pink and red starburst are the universal favorites, but by mid-November when the rest of the Halloween candy is gone, those orange and yellow leftovers are just fine. Instead of allowing this mindless snacking on treats your family isn’t even that into, try narrowing the selection!
Once your child has enjoyed their initial sugar rush, take 10 minutes to go through the remaining candy together. Set a number… say 5. Your child can choose 5 specific types of candy and keep as many as they find. The rest will be subject to buy back, donation, or repurposing. Don’t let them try to say “chocolate”. They can keep any peanut butter pumpkins, red Starbursts, Babe Ruth, Snickers, and Nestle Crunch bars (for example)
This ensures not only that your child doesn’t over-eat their candy (They’ll want to conserve it and make it last!) but that they actually enjoy every bite, rather than mindlessly snacking on sugar. Maximum enjoyment, minimal damage!
Set a specific time to ration out their treats (like right after dinner, just before brushing teeth!) and be sure that there are no distractions. No television, tablet, or even homework while they’re enjoying their indulgence. Each bite should be savored, and should help them stretch the Halloween fun!
Once you’ve eliminated all but the favorite few, you can simply remove the excess or offer to buy back candy from your child. Stickers, water bottles, socks, matchbox cars, Chapstick, or other small trinkets make a fair trade. You can also trade screen time or skipped chores for the goodies! Once you’ve acquired the candy, look into a way to dispose of it that speaks to you!
A few ideas include:
- Melt down hard candies, form into molds, and create a fun jeweled window hanging
- Save sweets to give unique architectural details to your upcoming gingerbread houses
- Choose a local shelter, refugee placement center, nursing home, or children’s hospital that accepts gifts such as these. For these families, a sweet treat can be a bite of hope and humanity in a really hard time
- Operation Gratitude sends care packages to deployed members of our military. If you’re looking for a sweet way to say thank you, offering a care package is a hug in a box for service members who are far from home, and their families
Taking your child trick or treating isn’t even about the candy. It’s about the anticipation, the pumpkin, the cold breeze, the lawn decorations, and your child getting to show off the costume they spent months dreaming up! It’s about the memory. Stay present and engaged with your child as you walk the neighborhood. Point out other costumes, spooky decorations, or clever signs posted among the homes. Make it a point to introduce yourself to your neighbors. This moment isn’t about the candy they’re going to forget about anyway, and it’s not even about the photographs that will get shuffled around and blend in with a thousand other snapshots. It’s about one night, together.
These years are few, and this is a chance to build a memory they will take with them on all of life’s big adventures! Have a safe and sweet Halloween, from your friends at West Maple Pediatric Dentistry.