Halloween Traditions for Families with Young Kids
Halloween is a spooky and fun time of year, but how do you celebrate with young children who are afraid of witches and unable to carve pumpkins?
The first year after our twins were born I was super excited about every holiday. For Halloween, I dressed them up in matching pumpkin costumes (completely adorable) and bought little Halloween onsies and socks for them to wear all month. After they were properly adorned I wasn't sure what to do next. Even their second Halloween when our kids were 17 months I wasn't sure how to celebrate with them.
They didn't understand trick or treating and my son was terrified with anything that had a mask. They didn't have enough teeth to eat candy or caramel apples. They weren't able to carve a pumpkin or even tell me what they wanted the face to look like and pumpkin seeds were a choking hazard.
However, I was determined and I did figure out some fun ways to celebrate the holidays. These early experiences have shaped our current family Halloween traditions.
A group of us blogging ladies were discussing how much we love our family holiday traditions. It turns out that we all have our unique take on the holidays. We thought it might be fun to share them with you in hopes of inspiring your holiday season!
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Halloween Traditions for Families with Young Kids
To me, Halloween is about the colors and textures of Fall. I love bright orange pumpkins and crisp apples. I love crunchy leaves and spicy pumpkin pie. Even the littlest kids can enjoy many of these things and participate in building Halloween traditions with their family.
GO to the Pumpkin Farm.
I adore visiting the pumpkin farm. I have vivid memories of crazy hayrides and a make-your-own caramel apple buffet (which is probably the most awesome and least sanitary thing of my childhood). We have been carting our twins to the pumpkin farm every year since they were infants. When they were babies we carried them in our Baby Bjorns and I'm pretty sure I even nursed one on a hayride once (I do not recommend this). Last year we had our first Southern pumpkin farm experience, which was surreal and wonderful in a warm 80 degree kind of way. I'm excited to head back again this year. Here are a few tips:
*DRESS FOR THE WEATHER because you will be outside for a while. When we lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota this meant layers and hats. Down here in the Deep South, this means sunscreen.
*SET A PUMPKIN SIZE LIMIT. At least in my experience little ones are not going to carry their pumpkins. You are. Unless you are in this for the body building experience, give your child a limit - for example, you have to be able to pick it up and carry it over to X if you want to bring it home. Also it's good to remember that price is usually relative to weight.
*CHECK IF YOU NEED CASH. A decent number of pick-your-own farms still require cash or check. Check their website or call beforehand to check with your farm to make sure you are prepared.
READ books about Halloween
We love reading books as a way to start a conversation, introduce vocabulary, or prepare for an adventure. Here are 5 of our favorite Halloween books:
APPLES AND PUMPKINS by Anne Rockwell
Sweet non-fiction about a trip to an apple and pumpkin farm. Perfect introduction into what to expect.
BROOM ZOOM by Caren Lee Cohen
This is the best Halloween book I have found for toddlers. A witch and a goblin both need a broom and they need to figure out how to share it.
ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donaldson
Created by the author and illustrator that made Gruffalo, this is fabulous Halloween fun. A witch goes for a ride on her broom, but she keeps dropping things. When she lands to look for them more animals hop aboard each time and they are running out of room on the broom. Then a dragon comes along and the witch's new friends might just save the day.
LADYBUG GIRL AND THE DRESS-UP DILEMMA by Jacky Davis
We love all of the Ladybug Girl books. In this edition, Ladybug girl cannot decide what to be for Halloween. She changes her mind until the very last moment when she realizes it might be best to just be herself.
GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER by Ed Emberley
Not Halloween specific, but this only slightly spooky monster book is a great way to talk about facing potential fears on Halloween.
PLAY and explore your pumpkins.
What do you do once you get your pumpkins home? It is tempting to just carve them open and be done, but don't!
*EXPLORE WEIGHT AND TEXTURE with your little ones. Encourage them to touch, carry, and move the pumpkins. They are going to be curious and little ones explore with their senses - let them!
*PAINT A PUMPKIN. Carving pumpkins is fun, but difficult with infants and younger toddlers. Painting a pumpkin is a fun alternative. Cover the floor, set out trays of paint, and encourage your little one to paint away.
*EXPLORE THE INSIDE. I know what I just said about carving a pumpkin and now that our twins are preschoolers we will try it this year. With infants and toddlers who aren't able to draw a face or carve a pumpkin, keep your carving more simple. Cut open a pumpkin and encourage them to discover the inside with their senses. Pumpkins have a unique feel, smell, and look. Model pulling out some of the insides. Last year, when our kids were starting to draw people on paper, we asked them to draw a face on the pumpkin with a washable marker and then used their drawing as a basis for their carving. This was a fun beginners way to include them in the process.
*COOK WITH PUMPKIN. There are tons of recipes for pumpkin seeds. Whichever way you choose, this is one of my favorite parts of Halloween. Last year our kids were finally able to try them without worrying about choking and they loved them too. When they were younger we started by cooking with pumpkin. Babies can eat pureed pumpkin. Toddlers can help make pumpkin pies and pumpkin breads. They taste and smell incredible. This pumpkin oat bread is on my list for this year.
Looking for more ideas? Check out what my blogging friends do this time of year with their families:
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