How Young Is Too Young to Trick-or-Treat? Do I Have to Give Your Baby Candy?

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Last Halloween, a parent with an infant strapped to her chest came to my door asking for candy. I leaned around her, looking perhaps for a toddler or preschooler, but no other kids were in sight -- just her and her two-month-old. Call me crazy, but in my experience babies too young to hold their heads up shouldn’t eat Tootsie Rolls.

How Young Is Too Young to Trick-or-Treat? Do I Have to Give Your Baby Candy?
Credit: Jenna Hatfield.

Sorry folks, but I’m going to go on a little rant here. Halloween is one day away and I’m estimating how much candy I need to buy. I live in the same neighborhood as last year, the population hasn’t changed, but here’s what has… kids are trick-or-treating younger and younger. If this keeps up, soon pregnant ladies will be knocking on my door.

I was two-and-a-half my first year trick-or-treating. My mom hadn’t intended to take me, but I saw my brother getting his costume on and begged to go out. Whether she saw the fairness in it, or wanted to avoid a looming tantrum, she agreed. Ever the crafter, she whipped out an old sheet, cut two eyeholes and, cliché ghost though I was, I was ready for my first year trick-or-treating.

The rules were thus: I could go out to gather candy with my big brother (and mom) as long as I walked myself and carried my own loot.

I think I lasted two houses that year, but I was proud of myself -- excited to taste the fruits of my labor and, of course, my brother was compelled to share some of his much larger haul with me when he got home.

Taking my mom’s wise lead, I have chosen to introduce my kids to Halloween with these same rules -- when the kids are old enough to ask to trick-or-treat, they can go -- as long as they walk themselves and carry their own loot.

I don’t claim to be wiser than the next parent. I’m certainly not saying my way is the right way (for any family but my own), but as far as I‘m concerned, there is something appalling about using your infant to procure free candy for yourself…

Oh, we all eat our kids’ Halloween candy -- I’m certainly guilty of that. I’ll admit it; I even pick out my favorite chocolate bars while they’re sleeping. But the gall of showing up at someone’s door and holding out a loot bag when you have no kids at home who can actually EAT the candy? It’s just not right.

There are exceptions, of course, if you need to take your littlest out with you while you chaperone your older kids -- sure! Dress the little poopster up! It’s cute. Doesn’t mean you have to hold out a bag for her. Remember, she doesn’t even know what’s going on and she’s certainly not going to complain that her brother got more candy than her seeing as she can’t yet talk.

I’m no Halloween nazi. I let it slide when kids a bit too old to still be trick-or-treating knock on my door… as long as they’re wearing a costume… and as long as they’re not old enough to have their own kids.

Asking around on moms’ forums and Facebook groups, I found no consensus. Some moms agree with me that if they can’t actually eat the candy, they’re too young, and other moms think it’s a great opportunity to show off their adorable bundle of joy. But what about the poor folks forking out their hard earned cash just to see the happy faces on the youngsters proudly holding out their goody bags at knee height, only to find themselves handing out candy to people their own age? Not even in costume, might I add!

So, did I say anything to the over-age trick-or-treater last year? Of course not. I’m far too non-confrontational and passive aggressive for that, but I remembered. And when I see her this year with her now 14-month-old, you can be sure he’s getting a sugar-free lollipop instead of one of the chocolate bars I’ll be handing out. Or maybe I’ll start handing out small jars of baby food this year.

So where do you weigh in? Do you strap the infant on and go out to claim your free stash? Or do you wait for the kids to be old enough to eat candy?

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