Parents, Do You Ration Your Kids' Halloween Candy?

We want to know whether you keep tabs on your children’s trick-or-treating haul.

When I was growing up, my parents never even mentioned anything about rationing my Halloween candy, but then again, they really didn't need to. Neither my sister or I have ever been hugely into sweets, even as kids, so we naturally enjoyed our candy in moderation without overdoing it. Over the years, however, my mom has become increasingly skeptical of processed sugar, so I'm sure if I went trick-or-treating as a 40-year-old, she would probably find my stash and hide it from me.

I'm not a parent myself, but this is definitely something I've wondered about each year as the Halloween discourse inevitably circles back around to kids, candy, cavities, and killjoys. I did a poll of some parents I know, posing the same question to all of them: Do you ration your kids' Halloween candy, and why?

What follows are some of the most spirited and enlightening answers I received. If you have your own opinions on the matter, let us know.

Instead of rationing kids’ candy, offer to buy it back from them instead

We didn't start rationing until our kids showed (big surprise here) poor judgement. Unless we did, they would burn through it all in under three days. On top of that, there's also the diabetic factor to account for with one of our children.


Typically, how we handle it now is that right after they're done trick-or-treating, we let them have a "free-for-all" for an extremely short time. Afterwards, the candy is separated out into individual labeled bags that they then get to choose up to two pieces per day from until their supply is exhausted. Year after year, those damn Smarties are always the last to go...

Last year we also gave them the option to "sell" their candy, and they could get something from Walmart or Amazon. No takers last year, but they have pretty long Amazon wish lists, so they might actually take us up on it this year." —Terek and Mandy, kids ages 5 through 14

I don't ration Halloween candy, because I am a firm believer in letting [my daughter] have what's hers. I also believe in natural consequences—they're the best teacher! If she eats too much, she'll learn (she did). If she runs out, she runs out! I've offered cash, this kid is not here for it. —Sara, daughter age 12


The kids self-regulate. Sort of.

Bwahahahaha. As someone nearly 18 years into this parenting ... journey? Rollercoaster? Descent into madness? The one thing I've learned is to pick my battles. And the Battle of Halloween Candy is a hill upon which I certainly will not die. As with most things, it seems to sort itself out without much parental intervention on my part. Might one (or both) of my kids consume a mountain of Tootsie Rolls and tiny Kit Kat bars on the 31st and pass out surrounded by wrappers with a roiling stomach ache? Sure. That has happened.


And then, by the next morning, they ask for one piece of candy in their lunch and the stash usually lasts us well into the winter. So, no, there's no helicopter parenting around Halloween candy here. But my children do know well my one unwavering rule on this topic: If you receive a Take 5 bar and you do not hand it over to mom, you are grounded until Christmas." —Heather, kids ages 10-17

Yes, ration the candy. Sort of.

If you consider "eating the best stuff once the kids go to bed" rationing, then yes. Otherwise we let them go nuts on Halloween night and then they pick at it until we make it disappear, usually around Thanksgiving time. I keep wondering when they'll catch on to us, but since they can't seem to find their shoes on a daily basis I think we're safe secretly demolishing their candy after hours for at least a little while longer. —Tim, kids ages 5 through 7


Our three daughters—aged 32 through 39—are beginning to feel uncomfortable with my going through their trick-or-treat bags, but my own feeling is, if they're going to keep trick-or-treating, I'm going to keep rifling (with appropriate parental privilege and care) through their goody bags. I monitor their bags for unwrapped candy or any candy I deem unworthy (Mary Janes, because I've paid enough dental bills over the years, and Circus Peanuts, because they're the worst candy in the world). —David, kids ages 32-39

My kids range in age from 1-16 and I do ration their candy according to recommendations from their healthcare provider. As any competent veterinarian will tell you, candy is not an appropriate part of your pet's diet, so I can eat it all myself with a clear conscience. —Rachel, kids (okay, cats) ages 1 through 16