As fun as Halloween can be, it can also be a little frightening, especially for the little ones. My 4-year-old has always loved the holiday, but this year he's a little more hesitant than before. Just today he quizzed me about Halloween night: “Are there going to be spooky monsters lurking in our neighborhood? Are vampires real? What about ghosts?"

I want him to have all the fun of Halloween without the need for fear—so here are a few ways I'm ensuring the celebrations are spook-free.

1. Read boo-free books

Kids are such sponges. A great way to celebrate the days leading up to Halloween is to read books that aren't full of scary, mean creatures. A few of our favorite spook-free books include:

2. Host a trunk or treat party

Trick or treating can be a little worrisome for both parents and little ones. But trunk or treats are the perfect alternative! Invite some friends with kids to decorate their car trunks, meet in a nearby park and let the little ones go trick or treating in a safe, controlled area.

3. Watch kid-friendly Halloween movies

As a kid, the thing I dreaded the most about Halloween was a scary movie—but there are plenty of classics without any frights. (Which is fine by me. I'm still no fan of horror movies!)

Watch the movies ahead of time and use your judgment to determine what may be fine with your little one, but a few of our Halloween-inspired movie nights have included:

4. Make cute critter crafts

Halloween crafts are a great way to celebrate the season. Get the whole family in on it and you can have a designated Halloween crafting night. Check out my list of 50 fall crafts for toddlers + preschoolers for some inspiration!

5. Throw a scare-free Halloween party

Mickey manages to throw a not-so-scary party every year and you can too! Invite some of your little one's friends over for a costume party, complete with bobbing for apples, sweet treats and fun effects like a witch's cauldron with dry ice.

This is also a great time to do my little guy's favorite Halloween activity, a slimy noodle box: I boil a bunch of spaghetti noodles, put it in an aluminum foil-lined box and hide surprises in it like fake eyeballs and spiders from the Halloween store. This is fun, messy and totally kid-approved!

6. Bake Halloween treats

One of my favorite things to do with any holiday is to make treats—and Halloween is certainly no exception. Whether it's hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls to replicate a mummy, caramel apples or popcorn balls, baking and making treats with my little guy is something I greatly cherish.

Happy fright-free Halloween! 🎃

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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