Spooktacular Tips for a Healthy Halloween

UT Health Austin pediatrician shares insights on how to have a healthy and safe Halloween

Reviewed by: Alefiyah Malbari, MD
Written by: Kaylee Fang

A mother and her two children are in Halloween costumes posing on the sidewalk with their jack-o-lantern candy buckets. The girl is a red insect, and the boy is a doctor in OR scrubs. The mother is a pirate, and she is holding onto their dog.

Halloween is just around the corner, and excitement is in the air, particularly for little ones eagerly anticipating a night of trick-or-treating. As you and your loved ones gear up for a spooktacular celebration this season, it’s essential to prioritize health and safety.

UT Health Austin pediatrician Alefiyah Malbari, MD, who serves as the Chief of Dell Children’s Medical Group Pediatrics Mueller, a clinical partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin, shares valuable insights on how to have a healthy and safe Halloween.

Costume Safety

As parents, we want to ensure our children have a safe and memorable Halloween experience. From choosing the right shoes to handling costumes, accessories, and cosmetics, there are several considerations to keep in mind for your child’s well-being during this fun-filled night.


Trick-or-treating requires a lot of physical activity. You’ll want to make sure your child is wearing comfortable shoes that fit well when walking from house to house.

“Make sure costumes don’t interfere with your child’s footwear,” advises Dr. Malbari. “Try on the costume with your shoes before Halloween, and adjust the length of the costume as necessary to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame. In most cases, sneakers are the best option, as closed-toed shoes are the most appropriate to prevent children from getting injured.”

Hats and Masks

If your child’s costume includes a hat or mask, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t cover their eyes or get in the way of their peripheral vision. If their hat or mask is blocking their vision, consider using makeup to create a similar effect.

“Although a Halloween mask can have a nice effect on your child’s costume, it tends to block most of their vision,” warns Dr. Malbari. “Check that your child can see other people and oncoming traffic, which is particularly important as you walk through busy neighborhoods.”


“As you’re choosing makeup, try to find the ones that specifically say non-toxic,” suggests Dr. Malbari. “To avoid any skin irritation or reaction, do an allergy test on a small area of the body a few days before Halloween.”

Before you jump on any Halloween makeup trends, remember you may not always get the same results as others. Don’t let that discourage you. Accessories can make a great alternative.

Contact Lenses

Avoid any use of decorative contact lenses. Nonprescription contacts can seriously damage your eyes. It is only recommended that you wear prescription contacts.

“While the packaging label may say it’s safe for all ages,” warns Dr. Malbari, “decorative contact lenses are not recommended, as they can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections.”

Learn more about contact lens health.


For your child’s costume accessories, you want to avoid sharp or long swords, canes, and sticks. These can easily injure your child if they trip or fall. They also become burdensome as child tries to carry the goodies they’ve gathered throughout the night.

“The safest option is to not have them at all” says Dr. Malbari. “Instead, take pictures of your child with their accessories beforehand and leave the accessories at home when it’s time for trick-or-treating. If the accessories are a crucial part of the costume or your child truly wants to include them, choose the safest alternative. The shorter the object, the better, and stay away from anything sharp.”

Since trick-or-treating occurs during the darker evening hours, plan costumes that are bright and reflective to make it easier for others to see your child. If your child’s costume isn’t reflective, consider adding reflective tape to their costume or trick-or-treat bag for greater visibility.

Pedestrian Safety

Remember that neighborhoods are busier and more crowded on Halloween, particularly during late afternoon and evening.

Safety measures for children:

  • Always look both ways before crossing the street
  • Cross the street with an adult
  • Don’t cut across yards; instead, walk toward the driveway
  • Walk on the curb or sidewalk

Motorist Safety

“If you are driving, you should cut the actual speed limit in half if not more,” advises Dr. Malbari. “Proceed through neighborhoods slowly, stay alert, and be prepared to stop at a moment’s notice.”

Recommendations for drivers:

  • Make eye contact with the adults accompanying children when crossing the street
  • Remain alert at all times and don’t take your eyes off the roads
  • When stopping at stop signs, allow pedestrians the right-of-way

Teal Pumpkin Project

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for the 1 in 13 children living with food allergies and many others impacted by intolerances and other conditions. Placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep signals that, in addition to candy, you offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all trick or treaters.

Make this Halloween one to remember by including some of these non-food items:

  • Bouncy balls
  • Bubbles
  • Coloring pages or books
  • Erasers
  • Fidget toys
  • Glow sticks
  • Pencils
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Other small toys

Treat Safety

Before trick-or-treating, talk to your child about not eating any treats from their bag until you’ve had a chance to check them. “You never know what you could possibly find,” warns Dr. Malbari. “Create a family tradition of going through the treats with your child after you get home.”

Treat safety tips to keep at top of mind:

  • Carry treats from home that you know are safe for your child to enjoy as they participate in trick-or-treating
  • Dispose of candies with open packaging or that look old
  • Discard treats that may be a choking hazard for your child

“Some hard candies are a chocking hazard for children under the age of two. Be mindful of lollipops and suckers, which are not necessarily safe for them to have in their mouths” recommends Dr. Malbari.

Sugar Health

Feed your child a hearty meal before heading out to the partake in fun festivities or trick-or-treating to reduce the temptation of indulging in excessive sweets. Manage candy consumption by teaching your child about moderation and balance and creating a plan with your family beforehand. “You might consider having one piece of candy every few days to find the right balance,” encourages Dr. Malbari.

Many local dentists will “buy back” or offer healthier items or toys in exchange for Halloween candy. You can always donate excess candy to various nonprofit programs.

Nonprofit programs and businesses that accept candy donations:

Work with your child to choose their favorite treats, set aside the ones they plan to give away, and encourage them to savor their treats over time while looking forward to the next spooky season.

About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.