Halloween is a wonderful time of year that many children enjoy and look forward to.
However, when also managing food allergies, celebrations and holidays can often bring complications and difficulties for families. As with all celebrations where food is involved, families want their food allergic children to feel safe and included as well as to be able to enjoy the same experiences as their peers.
Navigating Halloween and managing food allergies can be a tricky task. Between children being out in the dark where it is difficult to see and read the ‘fun-sized’ list of ingredients and strangers offering food to our children, it can quickly become a food allergy parent’s worst nightmare.
In this blog post, we will be sharing ways to keep your children safe this Halloween by making it a fun and inclusive time for all.
Let’s Talk About It!
Communication is key.
Though you may manage your child’s allergies exclusively, eventually it will become their responsibility. Occasions such as this are a great opportunity to hand over just a little of that responsibility and discuss the importance of checking the ingredients of everything they eat and are offered.
It is a good idea to have a plan ahead of trick or treating, such as bringing food home and checking it is safe, rather than eating whilst out. Not touching food that isn’t in packaging and not taking homemade treats where the ingredients are unknown.
Children can also use the opportunity to advocate for themselves and to build confidence. Knowing that it is okay to say, ‘no, thank you’ and not accepting everything that adults who don’t know about their allergies, give them.
Arranging a get-together with friends who understand your child’s allergies can be an excellent alternative to trick or treating.
A safe Halloween party at home where all the food has been safely prepared and checked can be just as much fun (and warmer!).
Even a fun activity such as baking or other Halloween crafts can be equally as enjoyable.
Pumpkin picking is also a nice alternative to going trick or treating, as your child is less likely to be exposed to the things they are allergic to. Unless, of course, they have a pumpkin allergy, in which case perhaps not the best option!
Don’t Forget your Allerpack!
As with every other day and occasion, ensure you carry your bag with your allergy medication this Halloween.
As we know, allergic reactions can happen when we least expect them. It can help to give both children and their parents’ confidence in enjoying the celebrations, whilst knowing that emergency medication is accessible and at arms reach should it be needed.
The Switch Witch
The Switch Witch was created to give children with food allergies options if they’ve been given a food they cannot eat. The idea is that they leave the food out for the Switch Witch, who will come and switch the food underneath the moonlight and swap it for something safe. In the morning, children will find the food they left out taken away and new safe foods or non-edible treats left in its place.
Check, Check and Double Check
It is important to remember that ingredients can change, packaging can resemble the packaging of similar products, and the ‘fun size’ versions can have different ingredients.
When put under pressure, it can be easy to assume that everything will be okay, especially if it is a food you think you have seen before. Here is your reminder to have the confidence to check the ingredients in all of the food that your child eats.
Teal Pumpkin Project
The ‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ is a new initiative which has been brought out in the UK to help to raise awareness for food allergies at Halloween.
Households can display a teal coloured pumpkin on their windows to show that they are food allergy aware and have non-edible choices for trick-or-treaters.
It is not the food that makes a celebration but the people who we celebrate with.
There are lots of fantastic alternatives to celebrating Halloween that do not involve food. Halloween books, such as lift the flap books for younger children and spooky story books, like Super Friendly Spooky Stories by Jeff Kinney for older children, might be a nice alternative.
Other suggestions include Halloween colouring sheets and pencils, bubbles and bouncy balls.
Overall, we hope you have a spook-tacular Halloween, enjoy lots of yummy treats and stay safe.
We would love to hear how you have had an allergy-safe Halloween this year.
Please drop us a comment below and tell us how you celebrated!