12 Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Toddlers

12 tips for trick or treating with young childrenCrazy costumes, spooky decorations, and massive amounts of candy—what’s not to love about Halloween, right?

Right. Tell that to the parent of a young child.

All the fun of Halloween can quickly be zapped by an ill-fitting costume, a house that’s too scary, or a kid with a sugar-induced belly ache. Keep your All Hallows’ Eve enjoyable (and safe) with these twelve tips for trick-or-treating with toddlers.


12 Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Toddlers

1. Choose the right costume.

There are some adorable costumes out there, but remember that simple beats cute-but-complicated any day of the week. Avoid itchy fabrics, elaborate headpieces (your kid won’t keep it on anyway), and outfits that don’t fit properly—just imagine your child tripping on her princess dress on the way up your neighbor’s doorstep, causing candy to fly everywhere!

Comfortable shoes are also a must, no matter how cute the princess heels look in the store. And most kids don’t like wearing masks for long, so try nontoxic face paint instead. 

2. Be visible.

Even if you aren’t intending to be out after dark, it’s not a bad idea to slap some reflective tape over your toddler’s costume, just to be safe. Take a small flashlight along, too, in case you end up candy-gathering for longer than you expected.

3. Talk about Halloween etiquette.

The last thing you want to be doing while trick-or-treating is nagging your kid at every door to “remember to take just one.”

Have a short conversation beforehand about how only a single piece is allowed at each house unless the homeowner indicates otherwise. That two-minute chat could save a lot of headaches later in the evening.

4. Inspect all candy before anything is eaten.

An adult should always look through the loot first to identify possible choking hazards, foods your child is allergic to, and any candy that’s open or just looks off.

5. Prep for unexpected surprises.

Being scared is part of Halloween’s charm, so chances are high that at some point someone will jump out and say “boo!” or you’ll pass an older trick-or-treater with a seriously terrifying costume.

But those kinds of unexpected surprises can be too frightening for a toddler. Be sure to prep your little one ahead of time; explain that some people enjoy feeling a bit scared, and that none of it is real.

6. Skip the super spooky houses.

Some people get really into their Halloween decorations. If you come across a house that you think will overwhelm your toddler, don’t feel bad steering him in the opposite direction. 

7. Time it right.

Go early in the evening, and keep it short. Young children can’t hold up for too long, and everyone will have more fun if you stop before they’re too tired or overstimulated.


8. Have a candy plan.

The temptation of a bucket full of candy is too much for a toddler to resist. (Heck, it’s too much for most adults to resist!) So go into it with a plan.

Tell your child ahead of time how many pieces she can eat that evening, how many she can have each day throughout the next week, and when the candy will be gone. 

9. Consider staying home.

Handing out candy to other kids—with or without a costume—is often just as fun as trick-or-treating for young children. Just be sure to choose candy that’s toddler-friendly, since inevitably a few pieces will end up in his mouth.

10. Potty prep.

Go right before you leave the house, just like always. Also, plan your route to have a stop back at home or at a trusted neighbor’s house, in case your toddler needs to go again.

It also helps to choose a costume that makes going to the potty easy—a long skirt that has to be lifted over her head or a head-to-toe costume that needs to be taken off completely just makes things more complicated than they need to be!

11. Pick an appropriate candy bag. 

Make sure it’s small enough for your toddler to hold himself and has an easy-to-grip handle. A small backpack is another toddler-friendly option.

12. Eat beforehand.

An early dinner or large snack will help ensure your kid isn’t begging for candy—at least not out of legitimate hunger!—all night long.

Will you be trick-or-treating with young children this year? What tips would you add?

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please consider sharing it with other parents!

28 responses to “12 Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Toddlers”

  1. The only thing I would add is to know your town/city/area’s rules.

    There’s no door-to-door trick-or-treating where we are. Instead the town puts it on inside a known facility for all kids. (Likely a smarter, safer idea given few street lights and normally intense weather.)

    We skipped it last year, but are thinking of going this year.

  2. These are all awesome tips! Unfortunately there is no trick or treating in Croatia so we wind up spending the night at home, watching Nightmare Before Christmas and giving the kids some candy and treats!

  3. I recognize many of these rules from my childhood, especially the limit on how much of the candy we could have on Halloween, and the following nights, and combining our winnings in a communal bowl.

    I asked my 3 year old student what she was going to be for Halloween and she lit up, telling me excitedly, “I’mma be a Kitty Banana Princess!”

  4. Eat beforehand! So brilliant. Of course we all have stories of eating candy for dinner and going to bed with a stomachache.
    Last year, Des was still a baby. And Scarlet hasn’t been a toddler in ages. So it’s fun to experience it all over again this year.

  5. Okay, so is it completely horrible that I am dreading Halloween with my son. I’m probably the only one, lol. I do agree that simple over complicated or expensive costumes is the way to go. I have no idea what my son will be for Halloween, but it’s something that is probably already in our house. I really hadn’t thought about many of these tips, so I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom, Katie. Have a great day!


  6. Great tips! My boys are older, so I’m going to be worried about them ditching me. I remember them being spooked by some of the more decorated houses in the past. Halloween can be fun and overwhelming for toddlers!

  7. These are all so good and applicable, Katie! I agree with pretty much everything. We definitely have a candy rule so that he doesn’t think he can just eat the entire bag. For my one-year-olds, we’re not even letting them eat the candy. And this one time, we came up to this house where this lady insisted on playing some crazy witch toy with eyes that light up before opening the door. I swear, I was so tempted to leave but I just laughed it off like it was the funniest thing: “oh, haha look at that thing!” lol

  8. Superb tips here! We don’t have much of a Halloween tradition where we are, and I’m sure it would scare my sensitive toddler. But I think we’ll stay home and play dress-up instead!

  9. Oh, potty prep. that sounds like just the kind of thing I would forget in the excitement of the evening and trying to get everything else together. What could I add… find the candy bags/buckets before Halloween night??? I need to work on that. And my baby’s costume is somewhere… (Argh, moving sucks.)

  10. I am going to share this advice – it is so perfect! Our kids actually enjoy handing out candy as much as they like collecting it… AND – we STILL have Halloween candy in their buckets from last year… I guess that shows you how much candy our kids eat! 🙂

  11. I didn’t take my son trick or treating until he was 3. Didn’t think he needed the sweets before that age. I definitely like your tips to choose an appropriate costume (for comfort & weather), and also how to trick-or-treat (etiquette). We tend to go out before the sun sets so we eat after we return and he knows that we won’t be eating any candy until after dinner.

  12. This is perfect Katie! It brings back memories of taking my kids when they were little!!! What a fun holiday we had every year they were younger- they were SO excited about the candy and dressing up!! Enjoy it!!

    But definitely take your own advice! I know… oh do I know! 🙂

  13. I’m a little weary about trick-or-treating only because I’m so easily spooked by strangers in scary costumes. Please don’t scare me! I can hardly take it! The bathroom before hand tip is crucial, it’s something I would “know” but not think to do. Thanks for that!

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