For most families, Halloween is a night of silly costumes, neighborhood gatherings, and far more sugar than any kid should ever consume. But for parents of kids with food allergies, the “scaries” of the night can be all too real.
My daughter has a life threatening nut allergy. For most days of the year, we’re pretty comfortable navigating the allergy world. However, on Halloween my child wanders around the neighborhood collecting candies that could cause her stop breathing. How’s that for terrifying?
Our first Halloween after we learned of her allergy was awful. I spent the whole night stressed out and no one had fun. I was not at all prepared and I vowed to never let that happen again. Kids with food allergies miss out on enough, we weren’t losing Halloween too. I started searching for some ways to make the night a little less scary and a lot more fun. Here are some of my favorite suggestions:
1. Skip trick or treating and host a party
Yes, I know. Ain’t nobody got time for that. But it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Plan ahead with friends and neighbors. Have simple games for kids, rent a fun jump, costume contests, crafts, the possibilities are endless. It’s much easier to offer allergy friendly foods in your own home, brought by people you know and trust.
2. Buy a bag of safe candy and bring it with you
This is really more for the younger kids who don’t understand their allergy just yet. You can’t exactly give a bucket of candy to a 3 year old and trust they won’t eat the wrong thing. As you pluck out all the candy they can’t have, they start to wonder why their buckets are so empty compared to their friends. I’m all for teaching kids that life’s not always fair but trust me, in the middle of the street surrounded by tons of sugared up kids is NOT the time for that life lesson. So when their bucket starts looking sparse, add a handful of the safe stuff you brought along.
3. Tell your neighbors
I can’t emphasize this enough. If they offer a big bowl of mixed candy, just politely mention that your child has an allergy and needs to choose carefully. More often than not, the next year that house will have an option safe for all kids. I’ve found that most people are more than happy to be considerate, they just have to be aware.
4. Stay home and pass out treats
My kids love this just as much as trick or treating, if not more. Have a teal pumpkin on display and offer non-edible items. This will give you an opportunity to promote The Teal Pumpkin Project, which aims to keep Halloween safe for food allergy kids. Plus, I promise, you will be the cool house. Last year kids lost their minds over the tiny bottles of bubbles we were giving out. My kids felt like rock stars.
5. The Switch Witch
I heard about this from another allergy mom and my kids loved it. Have your kids pile up all the candy they can’t have. Place it in a big bag and leave it out overnight. When the kids are asleep replace the candy with a special toy or prize left from the Switch Witch. So easy and so fun. If your kids are anything like mine, by the time Halloween rolls around they’ve already got a wish list for Santa in the works. Grab a small item you know they are excited about and they will be thrilled.