For children across the country, Halloween is a night of spooky fun and loads of sugary sweets. For one of the nearly six million children living with food allergies, Halloween can be disappointing and downright scary (and not for the typical reasons). If you’re the parent of a child with food allergies, it’s a tough night to navigate. I know because my son has a severe peanut allergy. As long as he can remember, Halloween has been a night of hearing “no” or “don’t eat that!” from his parents. But with a little creativity, we’ve learned how to manage holidays like Halloween with food allergies.
Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project
FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) is the largest advocacy group for people living with food allergies. They began the Teal Pumpkin Project to raise awareness and include people with food allergies. You can identify your house as safe for those with food allergies easily: paint a pumpkin teal (alternately, you can buy a pumpkin painted teal or print a poster to hang on your door) and hand out non-food items (in addition to candy, if you wish). Need ideas for non-food giveaways? Think temporary tattoos, glow sticks, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls. Find even more ideas on this list.
In our house, we take away the unsafe candy before he can even notice. His stash is supplemented with safe candy or other items (see below), which we steal from his sister’s bag or the bowl we have for trick-or-treaters. Usually he gets way too much candy anyway, so he hardly notices when some is missing. Also, consider showing your child what candy is safe for them beforehand, so when they get to pick from a bowl, they’ll know what to chose
Make sure to continue to read every label on the candy they bring home. You may be used to regular sized candies being free of allergens whereas miniature candy is often produced in different factories and may not be safe. If you aren’t sure if an item may have come in contact with an allergen, do not risk it!
If you’re trying to cut down on the amount of candy you child consumes (who isn’t?), you can offer to “buy” back some of the candy in their stash. Set a price you’re comfortable with and allow them to cash in their candy. For example, our son is old enough to recognize the value of money. He receives a dime for each piece of candy he “sells” to us. He’s motivated to make money so he can buy a toy or a book he’s been coveting and end up eating a lot less candy! We consider this a pretty sweet deal (pun intended) for everyone.
Host the Party!
This year, skip trick-or-treating! Instead, host a spooky celebration at your place. When it’s at your house, you can control what food is offered, eliminating the stress of coming into contact with an allergen. With only safe foods available, everyone can relax and enjoy the party. There are loads of adorable Halloween party ideas on Pinterest that are sure to offer spooky fun in an allergy-safe environment.