15 Tips for Food-Allergy Safe Halloween Fun

Gina Clowes Health Guide
  • Fill ‘er Up! Feed your kids dinner before trick or treating so they're not tempted to sneak a treat on the road.  If need be, have a few food allergy-safe pieces of candy or sugarless gum for them to munch along the way.

    Be Prepared.  Even in your own neighborhood, you'll want to make sure you have wet wipes for sticky hands, a flash light, cell phone and, of course, your child's epinephrine auto injectors (Epi-Pen or Twinject).  I usually bring a bottle of water too as we make it a rule not to eat or drink anything from others while we're trick-or-treating.

    It takes a village.
      Some allergy moms choose to purchase trinkets, non-edible treats, or food-allergy safe candy for their close friends or neighbors to give to their children.  For extra safety, you could enclose the safe treats in cellophane or a Ziploc bags to prevent cross contamination.

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    Hands On!  It's better to have the adult drop the candy into your child's bag, rather than to have your child r put her hands into a bowl of mixed candy that may contain allergens.  Some parents choose costumes with gloves if their child is food allergy contact sensitive.

    Just Say No.  If asked to select from a bowl of peanut candy or other unsafe treats, teach your children to politely decline. They can simplye say "No thank you."   Better not to risk contact with allergens at all.

    Be the Change.  Set a good example and help other allergic children navigate Halloween safely by giving out candy with clear ingredient labels and hold onto the outer bags just in case. Take advantage of allergy-friendly candy companies, such as Gimbal's Fine Candies and Vermont Nut-free chocolates, and avoid mixed bags of candy where the "safe" varieties can easily become cross contaminated.  

    Switcheroo!  Buy two of the same treat collectors (bag, or plastic pumpkin, etc.) Fill one at home with food allergy "safe" candy and treats. Go trick or treating with the empty one and enjoy collecting all sorts of candy. As soon as your little one is back home and washing his hands, switch the unsafe candy with your "safe" candy. This worked well for us until age three. By that time, my son had a mental inventory of each piece he collected.

    Cash for Pumpkins Program.  If money is more appealing to your kids, some parents will actually "buy back" the unsafe candy (i.e. peanut) for five cents a piece or even pay one set fee for the whole bag!  You can also trade candy for a toy that you or your child picked out ahead of time.

    Brotherly Love.  Plan how you'll deal with sibling's candy as well.  Ideally, younger ones will trade their "unsafe" candy for treats, cash, or safe candy. Older ones can keep their candy in a designated safe spot so that they can enjoy it in their lunch, with friends, or at other times outside the home.

    Reading is Believing.  When it's time to indulge, make sure your child knows that only labeled foods are allowed. Avoid "opened" candy that has been put into cute containers or snack bags. That includes homemade treats! If you can't read it, you can't eat it.

  • Size Matters! Keep in mind that Halloween-sized treats often have different ingredients than the regular sized ones. Always read the ingredients!

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    Kick it out.  Gather all of the unsafe candy and get it out of the house as soon as possible. You or your spouse can take it to work or you can donate it to a shelter or a nursing home.

    Candy Patrol.
    Remember that kids will have Halloween candy with them for weeks after trick-or-treating.  If your child is visiting with friends, be sure to ask about candy dishes or stashes of candy that may tempt your child, especially if she is on the younger side.

    Party On!  If trick or treating seems too risky, consider hosting a party. That way, you can be sure that everything that is served is safe!  If you have it on Halloween night, you can allow your kids to pass out your safe candy as well.  

    The Cauldron is half-full. There is  moreis more to plan and prepare for when you have a child with allergies, but after you get a few Halloweens under your belt, you'll realize how doable it is.  The scary and silly costumes and decorations are so hilarious for kids and, even with multiple allergies, there are plenty of safe treats. Focus on the fun and what your child can have.  You may be surprised that this spooky holiday turns out to be a real treat for your whole family!

Published On: October 14, 2009