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Limit Sweet Treats In Easter Baskets
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Contrary to what most children want to believe, jelly beans are not vegetables, even at Eastertime.
Like many other holidays, sweets abound at Easter. Parents should remember that moderation is the key to providing special treats for their children.
"Holidays are an easy time for people to let their guard down and overindulge in sweets," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "But totally denying sweets can backfire by creating a greater desire for the `forbidden fruit,' in this case, candy."
Mixon said parents of toddlers should be careful not to provide candies that may be choking hazards such as jelly beans, small chocolate eggs or malted milk balls.
"Parents need to maintain some control on sweets and let children know when and how much they can eat," Mixon said. "Candy should not interfere with meals."
Although some experts deny sweets contribute to hyperactivity, Mixon said parents are the best judges of how their children react to extra sugar in their systems.
"Remember, chocolate has caffeine in it as well as sugar," Mixon said. "Nonchocolate alternatives, such as peanut butter or marshmallow treats, might be better."
Dr. Louise Davis, Extension family and child development specialist at MSU, said parental "Easter bunnies" can provide many noncandy alternatives in this year's baskets.
"Gifts such as playdough, pencils, erasers, stickers, baseball cards, toy cars, gift certificates or books are always good `happies' for Easter baskets," Davis said. "Many small items will fit into plastic eggs to continue the bunny theme."
Davis said parents may choose gifts that will promote the spirit of the holiday.
"Easter should be a special family time. Parents can establish traditions that will be cherished memories for their children," Davis said. "Traditions are important to children and families. Through traditions, we can begin to understand, accept and appreciate our own families."