Every year, millions of children look forward to Halloween, planning their costumes and anticipating loads of candy. But kids with food allergies (and their parents) must approach Halloween with caution – and diligent label-reading!
Many candies are off-limits for kids with food allergies, either because their allergen is an included ingredient or because of the risk of cross-contact.
The good news is that Halloween can be just as much fun for kids with food allergies. Here are some tips for a safe trick-or-treating experience:
- Stock up on safe treats or inexpensive trinkets/toys to trade for any unsafe candies your child might receive while trick-or-treating. You can also use sorting through your child’s candy as an opportunity to teach him or her about hidden allergens and reading labels.
- Enforce a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule, so that you have time to review all food labels.
- Avoid candy and treats that do not have an ingredient label. Always have an epinephrine auto-injector available, if prescribed.
- Keep in mind that the mini-size, fun-size, or bite-size versions of candy may contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts. Make no assumptions, and read all labels carefully.
- Keep the emphasis on the fun, rather than the candy.
- Consider starting a tradition by allowing their kids to leave their unsafe candies out for the “Good Witch” to collect and leave behind small gifts and safe treats.
- Consider making small and safe “goody bags” for neighbors to give to your child. Deliver the bags in advance and describe your child’s costume to your neighbors. Encourage your child to trick-or-treat at the houses in which you’ve delivered the bags.
- Consider skipping trick-or-treating, and have a Halloween party instead, featuring safe and delicious treats. Or, skip the treats altogether by replacing them with other fun Halloween toys, games, or party favors.
- Remember that a candy that has been safe for your child in the past may now have different ingredients. Read the label, every time.