Ghosts, vampires, and witches aren’t the only scary things people think about for Halloween. For parents of children with food allergies and/or celiac disease, Halloween delights – from candy to snacks – can be terrifying too. Halloween treats often consist of common allergen ingredients such as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, and eggs. Kids who are allergic to these ingredients and consume them might experience a rash, hives, itchy skin, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach cramps, and even a life-threatening reaction. Living in fear of your child experiencing an allergic reaction without you being there to help is frightening. Having food allergies or celiac disease does not mean kids have to miss out on Halloween fun though. There are some safety precautions that can be taken and still have a fun Halloween.
1. Talk with your child
If your child will go trick-or-treating or to a Halloween party, communicate with your child about gracious ways to deny treats that will make him/her sick. If your child might need to use an epinephrine autoinjector if an allergic reaction occurs, be sure that your child has it or a responsible adult around your child has the device and knows how to use it. Avoid letting your child go out alone so that if a reaction happens, someone can help.
2. Plan food-free Halloween activities
If you’re planning to host a Halloween gathering, there are many fun Halloween games that adults and children can play. Toilet paper mummy, costume contest, Halloween bingo, and Feed the Monster are just a few games to name. Here’s a link with more food-free Halloween game ideas.
3. Explain your child’s food allergy
Commonly, children attend at least one Halloween party whether that’s at school or out in the community. Safety includes verifying comprehension of your child’s allergies with your child and each guardian to help prevent an allergic reaction or a life-threatening experience.
4. Be cautious
Check the ingredients of foods and treats offered to your food-allergic child. Sometimes brands advertise gluten-free or allergy-friendly food products, but their manufacturing facility does not support their ad. Be cautious of the foods and treats that are offered to your child and when in doubt, skip the food or treat.
5. Be mindful
No child wants to leave a trick-or-treating house or party empty-handed. Be mindful that some children have food allergies and/or celiac disease. This Halloween buy safe snacks that everyone can enjoy regardless if they have a food allergy or not. Check out Hilary’s Eat Well and Enjoy Life Foods for some ideas of safe snacks to get this season. When purchasing treats to give to trick-or-treaters, think beyond food and distribute items such as glow sticks, pencil toppers, stickers, spider rings, and slap bracelets instead.