As a first-time mom of a trick-or-treater with a peanut allergy, I’ve been feeling spooked about Halloween. This year, he’s young enough that he won’t notice Dad sneaking his Reese’s, but what about next year? My friends have older kids with food allergies, too, and I want to be an allergy-friendly Halloween stop on their route. So I reached out to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
“For kids with food allergies, trick-or-treating on Halloween can be risky because candies collected often contain many of the major allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, and milk,” says FARE’s Senior Director of Communications, Nancy Gregory. Here are a few of her tips for a fright-free night:
No snacking en route.
Parents need a chance to look over all the candy before kids dig in. Nancy says to check labels even if your child has eaten the candy safely before, because manufacturers sometimes mix up ingredients for seasonal products. No label? Don’t eat it.
Look for the teal pumpkins.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a nationwide effort to “create a happier, safer Halloween for kids with food allergies,” says Nancy. Homes with painted teal pumpkins (or a teal pumpkin printable sign) have non-food treats at the ready.
It’s not just families with food allergies themselves who participate. “I love the idea of making Halloween more inclusive,” says Kelly Holquist, a local mom who doesn’t have kids with allergies herself, but has friends who do. She joked that she appreciates less candy for her own kids, too.
Check out the map to find nearby houses or to add your house to the allergy-friendly Halloween line-up. I just added our house and it only took two minutes! (Stop by on Halloween, we’ll have Star Wars stickers, just sayin’.)
Try the old switcheroo.
Nancy says many parents buy candy they know is safe ahead of time, then trade their kids for the unsafe or questionable treats they picked up throughout the night. Genius.
Be a safe spot yourself.
Even if you don’t have kids with food allergies, you probably have friends or neighbors who do. Nancy suggests buying some inexpensive non-food treats, then keeping them in a separate bowl to prevent cross-contact.
Having a selection of non-food items doesn’t have to break the bank! Here are a few easy ideas. Oriental Trading Company has some cute and affordable items, and the Dollar Store always has some great little treats!
- Glow sticks
- Character Band Aids
- Cute toothbrushes or flossers
- Little dinosaurs or other figures
- Rubber stamps
- Toy cars
- Coloring books
- Hair bows/barrettes
- Bouncy balls
- Sticky hands
- Crazy straws
- Halloween Rubber Ducks
- Punch Balloons
- Slap bracelets
- Spider rings
- Temporary tattoos