Candy is dandy, but when it comes to Easter baskets, there can be too much of a good thing. While kids love hunting for eggs filled with sweet treats, their parents aren't as fond of the heavy sugar consumption associated with Easter candy.
"Candy is fun for kids, and it's fine to enjoy a little of it during the holiday," says Lisa Hoang, MD, a pediatrician with
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group in Tustin. "However, the Easter Bunny isn't known for moderation, and it's easy to go overboard, especially if your holiday includes a lavish Easter dinner with dessert and all the trimmings."
There are certain swaps you can make for a healthier Easter basket or egg hunt that children will still like, Dr. Hoang says. The first step is to select one of your child's favorite candy treats, such as a small chocolate bunny or candy bar shaped like an egg. Then supplement that with healthy age-appropriate options, including:
- Homemade trail mix or party mix
- Snack crackers (preferably ones without trans fats)
- Dry cereal for toddlers
- Homemade treats, such as mini cookies or bite-sized fruit muffins (allowing you to control the ingredients and portion sizes)
- Dried fruit
- Squares of dark chocolate (the healthiest type of chocolate)
- Fresh fruit such as sweeties or apple slices dipped with a small amount of chocolate or dark chocolate
- Small carrot sticks (after all it's the Easter Bunny's favorite)
"Candy can also be replaced with non-food items," Dr. Hoang says. "Choose something that is suitable to your child's development and remember that a lot of the small toys sold with eggs can be choking hazards to young children. There are many options and they'll certainly last longer than sweets."
Among Dr. Hoang's suggestions:
- Stickers or temporary tattoos
- Stuffed animals, action figures or yo-yos
- Gift cards to a restaurant, movie theater, store, etc.; older kids may like cards for apps and music for their phone or tablet
- Cash (stick to bills and stay away from coins if your child is very young—they can pose a choking hazard)
- DVDs or books
- Crayons, markers, or paint
- Toys that promote exercise such as jump ropes or balls.
- Seeds for planting flowers, veggies or fruits
And don't forget the basket itself. "Some parents do theme baskets," Dr. Hoang says. "Perhaps they fill eggs with Legos for budding builders or stock a basket with cooking supplies, baseball cards or paints and markers—something that reflects the child's interests."
Also, make sure the basket appeals to the eye as well as the stomach. "Go beyond the plastic pastel eggs and find treat holders that are more unique, such as glitter-covered eggs, colored mini baskets or decorative holders shaped like carrots or baby chicks. Involve your child in some of the egg decorating or basket decorating," Dr. Hoang adds. "Crafty parents can find a wealth of ideas for DIY projects online that are charming and can become keepsakes used from year to year."
For more information about St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, click here. For more information about Dr. Hoang, click