Many parents swap Valentine’s Day romance for school parties and Valentine’s Day cards. Unfortunately, this means your son or daughter will likely come home with an abundance of candy. Sweets are fine in moderation, but one candy from each classmate can add up very quickly.
Eating too much sugar is bad for children’s health in general, but it’s especially harmful for their teeth. The candy can wear down tooth enamel very quickly. The effects are even worse if children don’t brush and floss regularly. There are ways to help safeguard your child this holiday. From teaching them the importance of good oral hygiene to offering alternative treats, take action to protect your child’s sweet tooth this Valentine’s Day.
Taking the First Step
The most important thing is to teach your child how to take care of their teeth. From an early age, you should help them build smart habits for adulthood. Make sure they’re brushing at least twice and flossing at least once per day (with supervision if they’re young). Explain the dangers of neglect and that taking the proper measures makes for better breath and whiter teeth.
You should also make sure they understand the importance of watching the foods they eat. Too much sugar is never a good choice, so explaining this to them builds a better foundation for their overall health. Encourage your child to eat vegetables and the right amount of calcium – these choices will benefit them for years to come.
Alternative Snack Options
You don’t have to include candy in your child’s Valentine’s Day plans at all. He or she can share lots of other, healthier foods, even non-food items, with classmates. Instead of passing out lollipops, heart-shaped sweets, Hershey’s Kisses, you could try:
- Stickers. It’s hard to find a child who doesn’t love stickers. There are many possibilities to choose from, too, from popular movies to cars to animals. You can cut each one out so your child can divvy them up, or, since they’re so inexpensive, you can give entire sheets away to classmates. Plus, they last much longer than candy!
- Temporary tattoos. Like stickers, temporary tattoos are excellent, non-food Valentine’s Day choices. Your child’s classmates will love the surprise and will likely come to school the next day showing off their new “ink.”
- Small toys. There are endless possibilities if you include small toys in the Valentine’s Day gifts. You can choose Hot Wheels, small stuffed animals, or classics such as miniature Slinkys. Silly Putty and Play-Doh are other popular choices, too. Just be sure the items are age appropriate – you wouldn’t want to hand out marbles to particularly young kids.
- Clementine oranges. These are a great choice, because they’re naturally “individually wrapped.” A Clementine orange is a healthier treat than candy is, and it’s sweet and delicious too. Plus, many kids enjoy peeling them and dividing the segments.
This Valentine’s Day, do your part to protect your child’s teeth and the teeth of their classmates. Be smart, plan ahead, and enjoy the holiday!