When I was a kid, I enjoyed Halloween the same as anyone else, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. Somehow, though, I ended up with three Halloween fanatics for kids, so over the years, I’ve spent lots of time finding new ways to make the holiday fun. Halloween with toddlers can be a little tricky to plan, but once you hit on the right activities, Halloween with a toddler can be really fun for both of you.
The best activity to do with a toddler on Halloween is to attend a trunk-or-treat event. These events give toddlers a real taste of Halloween fun without exhausting them with long door-to-door walks or being out after bedtime. There are also many other great activities to do with toddlers at Halloween, from crafts to games to baking to cuddling together with a Halloween book or movie.
Over the years with my kids, I’ve researched tons of great Halloween activities for all ages. Here, I’ll share my top 10 ideas for Halloween with toddlers:
- Participate in a Trunk-or-Treat Event
- Play “Donuts on a String”
- Make Spooky Halloween Crafts
- Read Halloween Books
- Have a Halloween Dance Party
- Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Fall Festival
- Paint Pumpkins
- Decorate Halloween Cookies or Cupcakes
- Set Up a Halloween Surprise Game
- Watch a Halloween Movie
1. Participate in a Trunk-or-Treat Event
Kids of any age have fun wearing a costume and collecting candy on Halloween, and toddlers are no different. However, especially in a large neighborhood, going door to door for trick-or-treating can really wear a toddler out quickly, and mom and dad may end up carrying a cranky little one home before very long. In addition, in many areas, trick-or-treating starts after sunset, and you may not want to keep your toddler up late to participate.
Trunk or treat is a great toddler-friendly alternative to trick-or-treating. In a trunk or treat event, families congregate in a parking lot (usually at a church, school, or community center). Everyone has decorated their trunks with spooky decorations and has candy to share. Families in attendance can circulate amongst the cars to trick-or-treat in a safe, daylight environment.
With short distances to walk and having the event in the daytime, trunk or treat is a perfect way for your toddler to get a taste of the Halloween action.
2. Play “Donuts on a String”
Bobbing for apples is a classic Halloween activity – or, in other homes, perhaps hanging an apple from a string and having kids try to take a bite out of it that way. This can be a really fun activity, either way, you set it up, but it won’t work for toddlers. Toddlers lack the dexterity needed just to get a hold of the apple without using their hands, and in addition, a toddler’s mouth will not be big or strong enough to really take a bite and succeed at the game.
However, you can try a fun alternative that kids of all ages will enjoy: donut on a string! Tie a string or clean shoelace through the center of the donut and either hang it from a doorway or simply hold it above the child playing the game. Let the child try to take a bite out of the donut without holding it still with their hands.
With toddlers, you will need to manipulate this a little bit, helping get the donut leaning against their face a little or otherwise keeping it still so that they can get their first bite and “win” the rest of the donut. But you can bet they’ll have fun and be proud they can play the same game as the “big kids.”
3. Make Spooky Halloween Crafts
Every toddler loves craft time, and there are lots of great craft ideas out there with a Halloween theme. One cute idea that also makes a great keepsake: footprint ghosts. Start with orange or black construction paper.
Dip your toddler’s feet into white paint and gently press each foot onto the paper, toes facing the bottom edge. Once the paint dries, you can add black dots on the top of each ghost (the heels of the footprints) for the eyes and nose, and add a message if you like too, like “Trick or Treat” or “Happy Halloween.”
Your toddler will have fun painting with her feet, and you can hang this up as a Halloween decoration every year. Don’t forget to label it with your child’s name and the date so you can remember when her feet were that tiny!
Tear-paper crafts are fun for toddlers, too. On plain paper, draw an outline of a jack-o-lantern or a friendly spider. Give your child construction paper to tear into small pieces. You can fill in the shape you drew with an even coat of glue stick or make dots of liquid glue. Let your toddler decorate the shape by sticking their small torn pieces of colored paper all over the glue spots to fill in the Halloween shape.
4. Read Halloween Books
You can find lots of fun Halloween-themed picture books to read to your toddler at this time of year. Search your local library or Amazon and you’ll find more than enough to choose from.
One favorite in my house has been Halloween Bugs, which is fun because it has popups and flaps for the kids to open. All my kids also enjoyed Ollie’s Halloween, which includes a nice message of making sure everyone feels included in group activities.
5. Have a Halloween Dance Party
A toddler dance party is always fun and has the added benefit of helping them use up some of that Halloween sugar to help them get ready for bedtime. You can play classics you might remember from your childhood, like “Monster Mash,” or try current Halloween songs aimed at kids.
Here’s a great list of 29 kid-friendly Halloween songs to try. There’s even a Halloween version of “Baby Shark,” for those toddler parents who can’t get enough of that craze!
6. Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Fall Festival
Most communities offer a variety of fall festivals in October, and they usually include lots of fun activities for families with toddlers, such as seeing live animals, enjoying huge bouncing pillows, riding long slides built along the sides of hills, and going on hayrides. If the event is at a farm, there may be an option for you to go out into the field and pick your own family pumpkins to bring home, too.
7. Paint Pumpkins
While carving a jack-o-lantern is a traditional Halloween activity, toddlers are not really ready to partake in pumpkin carving. An adventurous toddler may enjoy the “yuck factor” of feeling the seeds and pulp as you scoop them out, but they aren’t old enough to help plan the design to be carved and have to be kept out of the way for safety while carving is done.
Toddlers, can, though, still get in on the pumpkin decorating fun! Wash your pumpkin to remove any residual dirt on the surface and let it dry thoroughly. Then, set your kiddo up with either finger paints or paints with paintbrushes and let them make the pumpkin into a masterpiece!
You might consider having a series of small pumpkins for this purpose instead of one large one, so they can have the experience of a “fresh canvas” a few separate times for this activity. They’ll also be able to move the smaller pumpkins around themselves to get all sides painted.
8. Decorate Halloween Cookies or Cupcakes
If you’re a toddler, there are never enough sprinkles. Look for Halloween-themed cookie cutters and make a batch of sugar cookies. Add a simple layer of frosting to the baked cookies and then let your toddler go to town adding the sprinkles.
If you don’t want quite so much sprinkle overload, you could also make Halloween cupcakes. A chocolate cupcake topped with orange frosting (get vanilla frosting and add food coloring or get orange-flavored frosting if your kiddo will tolerate it) is perfect for Halloween.
Your toddler can help with decorating the cupcakes by placing a spooky cupcake topper on each one. You could top them with a Halloween-themed plastic ring (remember those spider rings you’d get trick-or-treating when you were a kid?).
Or print out small pictures or cutouts (ghosts, witch’s hats, black cats, jack-o-lanterns) and affix them to a toothpick that your toddler can gently stick into the center of each cupcake.
9. Set Up a Halloween Surprise Game
Find a few simple Halloween surprises your toddler will enjoy. It could be candy, small Halloween-themed toys, stickers or temporary tattoos, etc. Then, set up a way for your toddler to find the surprises. You could use a muffin tin, placing each item into one muffin spot and covering each with a circle of paper. (Tape one edge of the paper down so your toddler can open them like flaps in a book.)
Or, place the items in a series of plastic cups and similarly cover the top of each cup. Your toddler will have fun revealing each surprise in turn (not to mention eating the treats and playing with the toys afterwards!).
10. Watch a Halloween Movie
For some quiet Halloween fun, you and your toddler can enjoy a Halloween movie. There are classics, like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” but also plenty of newer choices.
You’ll want to be sure to choose a film that will provide Halloween themes without being too scary for a little one. “Curious George: A Halloween Boofest” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Treat” are both very safe choices with characters your toddler has likely already encountered.
Other Holiday Activity Guides
- Thanksgiving Activities for Toddlers
- Christmas Activities For A Teenager
- Thanksgiving Activities for Middle School Students
Halloween can be a wonderful holiday for kids of any age. While some of the traditional activities you may think of for Halloween, such as trick-or-treating after dark or bobbing for apples, don’t work well for toddlers, there are enough toddler-friendly Halloween activities to keep you and your little ones busy for the whole month of October.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.