With Easter on its way, colorful candy aisles are overflowing with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, jellybeans and egg-shaped bubble gum. Everyone loves treats, but Easter doesn’t have to be synonymous with candy.
“With a little imagination, parents can prepare a beautiful Easter basket with healthier treats, as well as nonfood items that can help take the emphasis off sweets,” says Jane Hersey, national director of the Feingold Association, a nutrition-focused nonprofit organization.
Hersey suggests that parents skip the dyed candies, hold Easter egg hunts for exercise and follow these additional simple tips:
• Buy natural versions of candies such as jellybeans, chocolate bunnies and peanut-butter cups. Some natural candies are listed on the Feingold Association’s website at http://feingold.org/.
• Add art supplies such as crayons, brushes and watercolors to encourage your child’s creativity.
• Put packages of dried fruit like figs, raisins and dates in the basket, or goodies like homemade fruit leather or trail mix.
• Include a new toy or book, then top off the basket with a stuffed bunny or fuzzy chick.
While it might be tempting to add a real bunny to your child’s basket, you need to know the commitment you’re getting into, says Marie Mead, creator of celebratingrabbits.com and author of “Rabbits: Gentle Hearts, Valiant Spirits” (Nova Maris Press, 2011).
“Baby bunnies are a terrible impulse purchase,” she says. “A rabbit can be easily injured or disabled due to improper handling.”
Because rabbits look so kid-sized, it is often assumed that children and bunnies will be a good combination. However, the two are generally a mismatch, as even gentle kids can hug a rabbit too hard.
In addition, most rabbits go through a personality change. Baby bunnies are adorable, but when they enter adolescence at about 3 to 4 months, the once-amiable creatures begin to display a strong will, a desire for independence and an inborn need to chew and dig.
As with any pet decision, educating yourself is the first step. Do thorough research on the animal’s diet and behavior to determine whether it’s a good match for your family. If you decide a rabbit is the right pet for you, look into bunny-proofing and locate an appropriate vet ahead of time, Mead says.