Food Allergies & Trick or Treating: Guarantee a Happy Halloween

halloween costumeFor a kid-centric holiday, Halloween can be a total bummer for kids with food allergies. The candy handed out in the typical household contains as much as five of the eight most common food allergens.

But don't cancel the costume order just yet. There are 3 million American kids who suffer from some sort of food allergy, and they can all go trick or treating with a little preparation.


The Stir asked Maryanne Bourque, community education coordinator at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, to walk parents through planning the trick or treating trip with their child:

  • First, educate your child about what's in candy and what will happen to the child if it's consumed -- this should be age-appropriate teaching.
  • Secondly, be very clear about what kind of candy contains allergens and what doesn't. For an older child, this can be a list; for a younger child, this can be pictures cut out on a piece of poster board or construction paper.
  • If you're friendly with your neighbors, you may want to distribute some information to them to inform them of your child's allergies and what they can do.
  • You may want to prepare goody bags in advance and distribute them to neighbors to give to your child. These bags may contain safe candy or alternative Halloween treats.
  • Discuss with your child how the candy will be handled once trick or treating is done and (s)he is home.
  • If the child collects candy that contains allergens, figure out what to do with it before Halloween. Some options: trade the candy in for money (a penny/piece), trade in for a small toy or something the child has been wanting (not too expensive), or trade the candy for "safe" candy or other treats the child enjoys. I know parents of kids without allergies who do the candy swap just to avoid so much candy in the days after Halloween.

Do your kids have food allergies? How do you ensure they still have a fun holiday?

Image via Boss Tweed/Flickr

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