Between all the costumes, festivities, and of course, candy, trick-or-treating is a favorite activity for many families. For parents of children with food allergies, however, it may not be a “treat.” In fact, it can be downright scary.
Some of the most common food allergens like milk, nuts, wheat, soy and eggs are used in the manufacturing of many popular candies. This means that lots of little ones can’t enjoy these treats, and may be in danger if exposed to them.
To make matters more confusing, some bite-sized candies may not have a full nutrition label for parents to read. To ensure that candies are free of allergens, it’s important to fully read ingredient lists and check online if all ingredients are not listed on the packaging.
If you’re worried that traditional trick-or-treating may put your child at risk, there are other ways to join the fun, allergen-free! Avoid a frightful time with these five tips:
- Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project®. This program spreads awareness of food allergies in your neighborhood and community. Placing a teal pumpkin outside your home signifies an all-inclusive trick-or-treating experience and that your house has non-food treats available. Since there are so many different food allergies, non-food treats are the safest choice. Plus, kids love them! Think glow bracelets, fake mustaches, pencils, stickers, erasers and more.
- Host a fall party. Playing host allows you to be in control of food options. Not only can you serve food that is safe for your children, but you can create fun activities that divert attention away from candy. Maybe this can be the start of a fun annual tradition, too.
- Set ground rules. Make sure your child knows that she should always ask you before opening or eating any candy. Also stress that sharing candy with others is not okay without asking a parent first.
- Sort the candy. Once the trick-or-treating is over, help your child sort the candy into what is safe to eat and what is not safe to eat. Be sure to carefully read all labels!
- Trade or donate unsafe candy. A toy or prize can be traded for the candy, or the Switch Witch can also make an appearance. The leftover candy can be donated within your community or to our troops as part of Operation Gratitude.