Halloween is a tough holiday for kids with food allergies. Between trick-or-treating and classroom parties, children are surrounded by goodies that could trigger an allergic reaction. The treats may contain nuts, dairy products, wheat, or other common allergens that could kick up symptoms, including rashes, hay fever, wheezing, asthma, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Food allergies are increasing rapidly. Nearly 6 million kids in the U.S. are estimated to have food allergies. If your child is included in that figure, here are a few ideas for keeping Halloween fun and safe:
- Provide non-food treats. While other kids are amassing piles of candy, your child may feel left out. Give them exciting but safe alternatives such as small toys, stickers, or school supplies so that they have something to look forward to.
- Screen your kids’ candy. If your food-allergic kids go trick or treating, let them know that they should not eat anything until you have checked it first.
- Supervise parties. If your kids aren’t yet proficient at vetting food items for potential allergies, attend their parties so you can keep a close watch on what they eat. This is especially applicable if your child is very young or if they have severe allergies.
- Plan an alternate activity. If you would prefer to steer clear of trick or treating, plan a party at your place instead. You can still have treats out for attendees, but you can plan activities that don’t strictly revolve around food.
If you have a child with food allergies, you are likely sensitive to the needs of other kids in the same boat. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project to make the holiday easier on kids with food allergies. All you have to do is display a teal pumpkin outside of your home to let trick-or-treaters know that you are offering non-food treats. (Get free printables off the Internet.)
If food allergies are consistently cutting into your child’s quality of life, talk to your doctor. They can offer food allergy treatment. Doctors can order a food allergy test kit, examine the results and prescribe sublingual immunotherapy drops if appropriate. The drops contain allergen extracts and can help desensitize the body to trigger foods so that people can eat more of what they love without fear of reactions. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to address the underlying allergy instead of just its symptoms. Ask your physician about milk, nut, or wheat allergy treatment.