Most kids really love Halloween and eagerly look forward to all the fun and festivities surrounding the holiday. Picking out and wearing their costumes, shrieking their way through haunted houses, fun and spooky decorations, Halloween games, trick or treating with friends and enjoying all the yummy Halloween treats are all fun things for kids to enjoy.
But for children with food allergies (and their parents!), it can be more than a spooky time, it can be a really scary time because of the dangers of the kids coming across an allergen that can prove fatal for them. Halloween is a time when food that may contain peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, wheat, and other allergens is seemingly everywhere, and that can be very stressful for the parents and caregivers of kids with allergies, and dangerous for the kids. Difficulty breathing, vomiting, hives, swelling, wheezing and even more severe reactions can happen to kids who are allergic to these things.
But no kid wants to be left out of the fun. Here are some tips for making Halloween both fun and safe for everyone.
Find Halloween events that are allergy-friendly
Your local food allergy organization or support group may have something food- and allergen-free going on that your kid or the whole family can enjoy without having to worry about allergic reactions. See what they have on offer.
Go with your kid
If you’re worried your child may try a bite of something that may be unsafe or if they are particularly vulnerable to contact allergies, go with them. You can offer to drive older kids to different neighborhoods with their friends so your presence actually makes it more fun and adventurous for them, and that way you are on-hand in case any reaction should happen. Dress up as a chauffeur or Zombie Mom or Dad to really fit the part.
Throw a party at home and provide the treats
Instead of monitoring what other people give your kid, invite all their friends over to your place and you control all the food and snacks. Make it fun with themed music like Ghostbusters, Monster Mash, Flying Purple People Eater, etc., movies and decorations.
Give out something different
Give the other parents with kids with food allergies a break, and give the kids something fun and different too. Instead of candy, give out things like stickers, Halloween pencils and erasers, glow bracelets, and other non-food items.
Throw a party at your house and offer only allergy-friendly foods and treats.
Plan a Halloween costume party. Everyone can dress up. The kids can bob for apples. And you can make a killer play list for a dance party (“Monster Mash,” “Ghostbusters,” “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again,” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”)
Have a Post-Trick-or-Treat Swap
The kids don’t necessarily have to eat the goodies they get from trick-or-treating. Get creative with what they collect. When they get back, have them dump it all out and go through it with them, educating them as you go which ones are safe and which ones are not for them to eat, and show them how to tell the difference. Then you can have them swap with their friends for things they can eat, have some safe goodies ready at home to swap for, or even “trade up” with you for a toy or other fun thing like a movie ticket or trip to the zoo.
Remember, the point of Halloween and trick-or-treating is fun, not JUST candy!