You don’t have to be scared of Halloween or Trick or Treating! With planning and communication, your child can safety enjoy the festivities and trick or treating.
General Tips & Ticks
Here is a list of tried-and-true suggestions to enjoy the holiday.
- Revisit Precautions: This is a great time to revisit the precautions we must take as adult caregivers as well as reiterating the safety protocols our children must take. First and foremost, remind children not to eat any products if they don’t know or can’t read the ingredients. This includes homemade treats and products that are not labeled. Even treats that look like something they may have eaten before. Ingredients change, cross contact issues come into play when eating homemade goodies, and if they can’t read the ingredients for themselves throw it out. If miniature candies are not labeled, proceed with caution. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
- Read the Candy Ingredients: Wheat, milk, soy and even egg are used in many chocolates, caramels and fruit chews. Even more candies are made with or processed on the same equipment as peanuts and tree nuts. Small amounts of these allergens can cause an anaphylactic reaction in kids who are allergic to them. (See candies to avoid listed below.)
- Pick a Costume with Gloves: One of the safest precautions you can take is have your child dress in costume that includes gloves. That way if they are sensitive to touch, you have already taken the precautions. Also, when trick or treating at night, you won’t have to worry about what they are touching. Be sure to instruct them not to eat any candy while trick or treating. A few costume suggestions are: a witch, a superhero, animals like bears, dogs, and cats, a surgeon or a nurse.
- Start a Candy Trade: You’d be surprised how many children are eager to trade their starburst, skittles, and other dairy-free candies for chocolate! It’s a win-win. Your child can get more dairy-free candy while the other children can get more of their favorites.
- Offer a Special Exchange: Exchange candy your child receives with a special occasion gift that they really want. Give the candy to family and friends and let your child buy a gift. You could assign a dollar value to the candy, i.e., $1.00 for large candy bars, 5 cents for other smaller candy items and take them to the store to find something they really want. That way they can enjoy the experience of trick or treating with family and friends and still stay safe.
- Focus on the fun: It’s important to teach them it isn’t always about the candy but rather the fun and sharing.
- Share the meaning of the teal pumpkin with your child. Created by Food Allergy Research & Education, the Teal Pumpkin Project campaign was started in 2014 as a way to raise awareness of food allergies and provide safe options for trick-or-treaters with allergies. Houses with a teal pumpkin outside have safe, non-food treats available.
Halloween Party Tips & Tricks
• Prizes Instead of Treats: Primary option to keeping your child safe at Halloween is to be present at the party and/or help plan it whether it is in school or at a home. You can help steer the focus away from food and towards fun and games. Prizes for the kids are always appreciated and often are cheaper than the price of candy and preparing desserts. At this time of year, kids get so much candy so why not give non-food items. Your local Dollar Store will have an assortment of items like pencils, erasers, stickers, little notebooks, nail polish, etc.
• Revisit Precautions with Caregivers: Remember, when attending parties whether they are at school, a friend’s house or with family, it is usually a highly charged time. Lots of loud laughter, music, screeching, spooky sounds, etc. It is always best that at least one adult, a teacher, a coach, a friend’s parent, etc. understands your child’s sensitivities and/or allergies. The adults must know what to watch for, the warning signs and how to react. If you are not present, make sure they have contact information for you and the necessary medical supplies.
• Make Treat Bags: When it comes time for school parties, one option is to create little grab bags for all the children. They are cute, twist-tied, and a safe option.
• Bring Your Own Safe Option: For school parties, it is best to always offer to supply a “safe” option for your child. That way they can be assured that there will be something they will recognize and feel safe eating.
• Bag Craft Supplies Individually: When preparing for a Halloween party, children love doing crafts especially when the craft contains food. Put all the ingredients in individual treat bags. That way each child will have their own supplies to make the craft and you will be assured that it does not contain allergens. It is also so much more sanitary to have each child have their own supplies. Pinterest is a great resource for both food crafts and non-food crafts.
Halloween Candy to Avoid
It really is our responsibility to read the label every time, teach our children to do so, and instruct family and friends as well as teachers, coaches, babysitters, etc. Remember to read ingredients every time as ingredients change without notice.
The following Halloween candy with dairy should be avoided:
- Junior Mints Deluxe (but not original Junior Mints)
- Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Fruit Chews
- Werther’s candies
- Caramel Apple Pops
- Miniature chocolate bars