Halloween spooktacular or quiet evening at home?

Is your child ready to trick or treat?

If you’re wary of scary, try these tot-friendly ideas for a happy Halloween.

Many of us have wonderful memories of Halloween—dressing up as action heroes or action princesses, racing around neighborhoods to collect buckets of candy, the trading and sorting and savoring of treats once we returned home.

Becoming a parent feels like a chance to do it all over again. Yet, October 31 can bring a lot of questions for parents of babies and toddlers.

Is Halloween too scary for my child?

Many infants don’t even realize they’re supposed to be scared of spooky Halloween decorations, while some toddlers burst into tears at every turn. Even the most outgoing babies can suddenly become cautious—a natural phase in development that may coincide, inconveniently, with Halloween. The short answer is that every child is unique, at every age and stage. Trust your parental instincts; no one knows your child better than you.

For parents who worry about the fear factor, there are less frightening options. Many schools, community centers and local business districts host a toned-down event. Unlike door-to-door trick-or-treating, you will be able to peer into storefronts first and avoid the more macabre decorations.

Or, you can host a toddler-friendly route along your block or a party at your own home.

Is it OK to dress up my infant?

For some families, baby’s first costume is a treat that brings only tears and protests. Other little ones are born to pose. You can drape them in a hood, a collar or gloves, and they beam a big smile.

If your child is wary of the unfamiliar, or sensitive to certain materials, look for pajama costumes and skip the trimmings. Bonus: They can even wear them the rest of the fall!

How can I avoid the barrage of candy?

Meet your new best friend: the Pumpkin Fairy. The Pumpkin Fairy lives on sugar and she never gets tummy aches or cavities. She knows that many children get way more candy on Halloween than they should, or can, eat. So, she offers a trade: leave out all but 10 pieces of your candy for her to collect and she will leave a special gift in return.

Once children outgrow the Pumpkin Fairy, they may be willing to exchange some or all of their candy at your local dentist’s office or donate it to deployed troops or local charities.

Will I celebrate at all?

There will always be parents who charge eagerly into the holiday, whether their children are ready or not. However, respecting your intuition—and your child’s feelings—is more important than missing this year’s fun.

Luckily, fall is full of harvest celebrations that are just right for babies and toddlers. Look for local farms, parks or other organizations and places that are hosting autumn activities. Instead of carving a jack o’ lantern, scoop out a sugar pumpkin and make pie, soup or cookies. Pick apples, make corn husk dolls or go on a hay ride. Create fall traditions that your child is ready for now. There will be plenty of time for spooks and haunts later.