Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies

Do you remember the days growing up when your parents were worried about razor blades in apples? If you were given an apple, it went straight in the trash, even if there were no knife marks! Or candy that was partially unwrapped went in the trash too.  If only unwrapped candy and razor blades were our biggest trick-or-treat fears today (not to downplay those risks though).  The big issue for many of us (4-5 million of us) is the fear that our child will eat something to which he or she is allergic.

A reader recently posted a question on Facebook about how to help her food allergy child enjoy trick-or-treat.

Just wondering how you handle halloween. This will be [my daughters] first year to participate and I am thinking she won’t be able to eat anything with a dairy/soy food coloring allergy. Thought you might have some ideas for something I could “stash” so she doesn’t feel left out.

The fun time that is had by children and parents alike on this festive candy day does not have to be diminished too much by the presence of food allergies.  Let me first tell you how we have dealt with food allergies on Halloween, then give you recommendations that I have heard elsewhere.

Here is my number one suggestion to all of you who hand out candy and don’t have to deal with food allergies:  Be kind and pass out allergy-friendly candy or toys/stickers!!! Food allergy parents and kids will be so appreciative of this.

Look at those baby curls!

I saw no need to take my son out trick-or-treating when he was young.  He and I hung out together handing out candy while big sister and daddy went for the candy.  But when he was 2, I finally let him go on his first treating trip.  One rule that we have in our house is that you don’t eat any candy until you get home and let us look it over.  At that young of an age, many kids are a little frightened of the whole costume thing, so they aren’t all eager to run to and fro on a quest to attain the most and best candy.  Even now that this is more of my son’s mission, he understands the risks involved and follows the “no candy until home” rule.

Our Allergy Home Trick-or-Treat Tips:

  1. My son will tell people that he can’t have that candy bar when they offer it.  Sometimes they have an alternative candy.
  2. If your child is young, go to the door with him/her and help pick out the candy.
  3. If necessary, explain the food allergies to the neighbor.
  4. Always remember to say “thank you”. 🙂
  5. When you get home, have a time of swap between siblings.  My son makes a pile of all the candy he cannot have and gives it to my daughters.  They will give him some of their candy in return.  All under our direction.
  6. Stash a bag of allowed candy in your house and use it for the “swap”.
  7. Be sure to read all labels.  NOTE:  Many “fun-size” candies do not have ingredients listed or may contain different ingredients or made on cross-contaminated processing lines.  Check manufacturer’s website for details.
  8. When in doubt about ingredients, throw it out!!!  No need to take the risk over a piece of candy.
  9. If child is young, be sure to keep the dangerous candy out of reach.

Other Trick-or-Treating Food Allergy Tips:

  1. Plan an alternative activity for the night that is special or new, like a “spooky” party, movie, scavenger hunt or sleepover.
  2. Allow your child to do traditional trick-or-treating with costumes and neighbors, but you provide the treat along the way.
  3. If you know your neighbors, give them safe candy ahead of time to hand out to your child.
  4. You can do the swapping method that we do above, but do it throughout trick-or-treating.
  5. If you don’t want any candy for your child, swap it out for money or toys.

For more great ideas, visit KFA’s Take the Tricks out of Treats and download their Safe Halloween guide.

Do you any additional ideas to share with our readers on how to have a food allergy safe beggar’s night?

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7 Responses to Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies

  1. Mrs. T. says:

    Last year was out first year trick-or-treating with food allergies as an issue. We had one of our older siblings go ahead with one parent and give one of our “safe” allergy-free treats to the person handing out treats at the house and explain to them that the little one in the apple costume had serious food allergies and needed his own treats. Everyone was happy to help us out, and many found things like stickers or glow sticks to hand out to him as well. We even met a few neighbors with food allergies. I know this won’t work with older children, but it was helpful with a pre-school child!

  2. Our local dentist offers a candy trade-in where she’ll give the kids $1 for each pound of candy they turn in. (It all gets shipped off to the troops overseas.) I made my boys a deal that if they would turn in their “bad” candy, I’d get them some “good” candy instead. I found a GREAT site for allergen-free treats and just placed my order 🙂

    • Cook says:

      That’s a great idea! I think my son would go for that. We went trick-or-treating at a dentists house once and he gave out toothbrushes. That was one of my kids favorite treat. I wish I had the money to do something like that. I’m feeling somewhat convicted about the whole candy thing as it is, so I may go with pencils or tattoos 🙂 this year.

  3. I posted about our allergy-safe Halloween on my blog.

    This year we will do a lot of the same things but my boys are asking for a weeny roast over trick-or-treating. I think my 7-year-old who is allergic is coming to realize that he would rather not mess with the unsafe treats, let mom give him safe stuff…and have fun with his friends instead. He’s pretty mature and disciplined for 7 I guess. Food allergies make you grow up faster I think. 😉

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