Halloween tends to make parents of food allergic children fairly tense. And, with good reason: so much peanut-laden and dairy-filled candy! So much of it unlabeled in those small snack sizes!
Most of us aren’t used to our children being around such an abundant amount of their allergens and we worry how they will feel.
But there are a few simple ways to keep kids safe during trick-or-treat time!
1. Have a talk with your kids about the various candies that are not be safe for them. It’s important to have this discussion before heading out the door on their sugar scavenger hunt so they can make wise decisions when grabbing goodies from plastic pumpkins.
2. Also, remind your child not to eat ANY candy along the way. All candy consumption should be done under your supervision and ideally, back at a house.
3. If you’ll be trick-or-treating with your child, remember to bring their Emergency On-the-Go-Pack (with EpiPens) and a cellphone in addition to a flashlight. I have often brought a grocery bag to stick any peanutty treats in as we go.
4. Stock up on allergy-friendly candy (or fun Halloween toys, like glow rings and plastic spiders) for your child and let them know you have their favorite treats on hand. You have several options to work with here:
a. If you know the neighbors well, it’s a great idea to plant some safe candy around the neighborhood so that your child can get the full experience of trick-or-treating and you get the peace of mind that they’re receiving treats they can enjoy.
b. If you have a young child, you can follow them door to door and just slip one into your child’s bag in lieu of an allergic treat.
c. In the case of older kids: they can exchange their UNsafe loot for safe candy at the end of the night. Knowing that they have a safe option at home will ensure they have a great time trick-or-treating and prevent them from feeling disappointed if house after house is handing out Peanut M&Ms, for example.
5. Finally, make the fun and inevitable candy swap work for your child’s allergy! A supervised candy swap can serve your food allergic child well! Make a pile of all the candy he/she is allergic to and/or doesn’t prefer and let him trade away for things that are safe. They can either trade with friends (again, under your supervision) or swap with the safe candy/treats you purchased! Everyone wins!
Individually wrapped candy (often in snack sizes) don’t always have ingredient information. Make the internet your friend in making sure candy is safe for your child:
- For Wonka products (including Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Sweetarts, etc): Check http://www.wonka.com/home.aspx/products for a list of ingredients or call 1-800-358-1971 for more information.
- For Hershey products (including Reese’s, Twizzlers, KitKats, York, Jolly Ranchers and Mounds in addition to their chocolate bars, etc): Check http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands.aspx
- Hersheys also lists their Gluten-Free products here: http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/special-nutrition.aspx#/Gluten-Free
- For Wrigley products (including Skittles and Starburst, etc): click on http://www.wrigley.com/global/brands/us-brands.aspx
- For Mars products (including Twix, M&Ms, 3 Musketeers, Snickers and Kudos, etc): check out http://www.mars.com/global/brands/chocolate.aspx and click to the brand in question to get nutritional information.