BUTLER, Mo. – The night of dress-up, jinks and japes will soon be here. Children will roam the neighborhood bartering tricks in exchange for treats.

Make sure your pint-sized Batman, Spider-Man, Angry Bird, princess or pirate does not head out the door on an empty tummy.

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“Children with a full belly are much less tempted to gorge themselves on candy while making the trick-or-treat rounds,” said Tammy Roberts nutrition specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

Halloween is synonymous with bite-size candy, but there are other fun treats for children. Spin tops, bracelets and plastic animals are just a few ideas.

“Small boxes of raisins, trail mix or pretzels are a nice alternative,” Roberts said. “Stickers, temporary tattoos,  pencils and puzzles are a fun alternative to candy.”

Children will bring home bags of candy, making it a good time to teach them moderation. Roberts said the “forbidden fruit” approach never works because it just makes kids want it more.

“Whenever you think you can’t have something, you will really, really want it,” Roberts said. “So if your children know that it’s O.K. to eat the trick-or-treat candy, they’re just going to choose it in small amounts.”

Moderation goes for mom and dad too. It’s unfair if you limit candy consumption for your children while you indulge in the treats.

Roberts suggests that you put off buying candy as long as possible. If bags of bite-sized treats are sitting around the house, it’s too easy to give in to the temptation to snack.

Roberts said you will need to remind your children to take care of their teeth because candy can cause tooth decay.

Don’t forget about safety. Make sure children travel in groups or with an adult. Reflective tape added to costumes or coats will make children easily seen in the dark by passing motorists. Remind your children to be careful when crossing the street, and to avoid darting out between parked cars.

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