MAYWOOD, IL – Halloween can serve up plenty of frights, but there are ways to minimize scares and maximize fun, said Loyola Medicine pediatrician Teresa Jensen, MD.
"Halloween is always a fun holiday for kids, but there are some things parents need to be aware of to make sure it stays enjoyable for everyone," said Dr. Jensen, a primary care physician and pediatrician who sees patients at the Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, 675 W. North Avenue, Melrose Park, Illinois.
Dr. Jensen suggests parents have their child test his or her costume before Halloween, including any makeup, masks or accessories. Parents want to make sure the costume fits well and that a child can move around safely in it.
With masks and hats, ensure that a child can properly see when wearing it. Be sure to test makeup to avoid any potential allergic reaction the day of Halloween.
Dr. Jensen also offers some advice for helping children be seen when walking around after dusk for trick-or-treating.
"Place reflective tape on costumes or treat bags," Dr. Jensen said. "You want to make sure children are as visible as possible when they are out after dark, especially if their costume is dark colored."
When it comes to being able to safely trick-or-treat, Dr. Jensen has some guidelines for ghouls and witches of every age.
"You want to go over basic safety guidelines and traffic rules with your children," Dr. Jensen said. "Even teens can use a reminder to be cautious when crossing the street in the dark."
For young children: Attach an emergency contact card to your child's costume or tuck inside his or her treat bags in case you get separated. Rehearse addresses and phone numbers.
Grade school and junior high children: An adult should be nearby at all times when trick-or-treating.
Teens: Head out in groups on a pre-planned route with a set time to return home. If someone is bringing a cell phone, check to make sure it's fully charged.
With all the candy children receive, Dr. Jensen said there are ways to avoid a prolonged sugar rush, including eating a balanced meal prior to leaving for trick-or-treating and posting a plan on the refrigerator to outline when children can access the treats in the following days.
Food allergies are the other big concern.
"Rehearse with children how they can ask about allergens or direct children to save all the treats to sort when they get home," Dr. Jensen said. "Families should also consider having a separate bowl for children with common food allergies, including peanuts, nuts and wheat."