Avoid Holloween Horrors

Halloween fun for children with food allergies

On Halloween, parents of food-allergic children must be extra vigilant to ensure their child is not at risk of a reaction. The AAAAI (our national allergy society) offers these tips for creating a safe Halloween for food-allergic children:

  • Accompany younger children as they trick-or-treat and send older children out with a group of friends. Don’t allow your child to trick-or-treat alone.
  • Verify that adults or friends with your child understand his food allergies and what to do in an emergency.
  • Make sure your child carries emergency medication along on Halloween night.
  • Before Halloween, distribute safe snacks to neighbors and request that they be handed out to your child.
  • Eat dinner before trick-or-treating to reduce urges to sneak a treat.
  • Remember that small candy bars passed out to trick-or-treaters may have different ingredients than their regular-size counterparts. Even if a certain candy is safe for your child, the ‘fun size’ version might not be.
  • Carefully check all treats’ ingredients on packages or company Web sites to ensure there is no risk for a reaction.
  • If in doubt about ingredients, throw the candy away.
  • Work with your child’s teacher to plan a school party involving non-food treats, such as stickers or novelty erasers. Or, pack treats from home that other students can give to your child.
  • Instead of trick-or-treating, host a party that focuses on costumes, pumpkin carving, games and other Halloween-themed fun.
  • Create a “candy swap” with siblings or friends so that allergen-containing candies can be traded for other, safe, treats.
  • Teach your child to politely refuse offers of home-baked goodies like cookies or cupcakes.
  • Consider participating in a charity trick-or-treat event to raise money for a good cause, rather than collect candy. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network hosts an annual drive to raise money for food allergy education and research. Visit www.foodallergy.org for more information.

The AAAAI offers additional food allergy resources online at www.aaaai.org.