· Squeeze-foam balls
· Nickels, dimes or quarters
· Sugar-free gum
· Miniature boxes of raisins
· Boxes of fruit juice
· Individual packages of string cheese, jerky, nuts or peanut butter crackers
Set healthier limits for your child. Although the world may go candy-crazy around you, you decide how much your child participates. Stick to usual healthy mealtime, bedtime and tooth brushing routines - they are more important than ever.
You also can limit the amount of candy your child eats by:
· Visiting just a few houses - and going home for a bedtime snack of crunchy carrots and cheese.
· Going out for a short time - and going home to bob for apples or play your favorite game.
· Using candy only as an after-dinner dessert - or always serving a glass of milk with candy snacks.
Plan a healthier celebration in your home. You can have a ton of fun with an at-home party - during which you make sweets a small part of the celebration. Kids of all ages love old-fashioned games: bobbing for apples, pinning the tail on a scarecrow or pumpkin-carving contests. Costume parades with crazy prize categories are always a hit. Put party foods, like popcorn, trail mix and oatmeal cookies in empty pumpkin shells and offer lots of fruits and veggies (with orange-colored dips).
Get other families involved in healthier options. You can spread out the fun (and the workload) by involving others in your neighborhood, school or club (like Scouts or 4-H). It can be as simple as coordinating who will give out candy or healthier alternatives on your block - or as elaborate as a little holiday carnival with active games, silly prizes and fun food at your local school. Kids always win when parents plan for healthier options.
Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.