6 Life-Saving Trick-or-Treating Tips for Kids with Food Allergies

posted: 10/08/15
by: Katie Morton

Dressing up, staying out late, and eating as much candy as little arms can haul home, Halloween is like the Super Bowl of childhood! But for parents of children with food allergies, unsafe treats may make trick-or-treating feel like a horror movie. Don't despair; while you need to be cautious, with simple planning, your little ghoul or goblin won't be left out of the fun.

Teal is the new orange. The Teal Pumpkin Project, a national campaign created by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), encourages handing out nonfood treats instead of the usual candy. Families can show their home is "allergy safe" with a painted teal pumpkin at the door.

If your neighborhood hasn't embraced teal, there are still several steps you can take to keep your child with allergies safe while trick-or-treating:

1. Pre-game plan

Before trick-or-treating, ask close neighbors to hand out a safe treat. You can purchase those items, and bring them over in advance. Then when it's time to trick-or-treat, steer your child toward pre-approved homes.

2. Make the Rules

Talk about rules before hitting the streets. Let your child know they shouldn't take even one nibble without checking with you first. Read every label, even for candy your child has enjoyed before -- fun-size candy may have different ingredients than its larger counterparts (or different proportions). If a treat is unlabeled or homemade from an unknown source, don't eat it! Better safe than sorry!

3. Supervise

Go door-to-door with your child. Be prepared with a flashlight, cell phone, hand wipes (in case of contact with an allergen), and--most critical--your child's emergency medicine pack. Check out Kids with Food Allergies Halloween tip sheet for more safety tips for your outing.

4. Empower your child

Make it clear that it's OK to say "No, thank you, I'm allergic." Part of living with a food allergy is identifying and avoiding unsafe foods. Showing how to politely refuse is a crucial life lesson. Teaching your child autonomy from a young age imparts a sense of control over their own bodies and health.

5. Post-game plan

If you choose to allow your child to trick-or-treat without restrictions, make a plan for how to handle unsafe treats. If your child is young, the magical "Great Pumpkin" may pay a visit to the doorstep to leave a special basket of small toys and safe treats overnight. You can then discretely swap out the allergenic candy. If your child is older, consider a candy exchange for a few dollars, a cool app, or a small toy. Keep the focus on the fun instead of the food and give your child something other than a sugar high to look forward to.

6. Party hearty

Finally, if trick-or-treating doesn't feel comfortable, start a Halloween tradition and host a kid-friendly party. A Halloween party will make special memories for your little pumpkin, and you can control the menu. Look to Pinterest for ideas on how to plan an unforgettable do-it-yourself event.

With these tips, even trick-or-treaters with food allergies can enjoy a safe and festive Halloween.