For the 1 in 13 U.S. kids with food allergies, Halloween can be the worst day of the year. Running from house to house for treats you can’t eat, and that can even make you really sick, is not exactly fun. It can be nerve-racking for parents, too.
Most Halloween candies contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, or wheat, which are among the nine most common food allergens. (Fish, shellfish, and sesame account for the remaining three). While kids with food allergies and their parents are accustomed to reading ingredient labels, Halloween-sized treats usually don’t have them. What are kids with food allergies and their parents to do, and how can friends without this challenge help?
5 Ways to Have an Allergy-Friendly Halloween
Here are our tricks and treats to make Halloween fun and a little less scary for kids with food allergies and their parents.
1. If your child has food allergies, have them stay home to give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
After a few years of trick-or-treating with friends, or not wanting to try it at all, some children with food allergies may prefer to be the designated person to hand out the treats from home. Handing out the treats can be fun, and it also teaches children to appreciate the value of giving. Plus, kids will be able to see their friends when they come to the door. It may not be as tasty of an experience, but for some kids, it’s a heck of a lot safer and even more enjoyable. If you have a child with food allergies who prefers this route, be sure to have safe treats that your child can enjoy.
2. Buy and hand out allergy-friendly Halloween candy.
If you have a child with food allergies, purchase candies that your child is allowed to eat. And if you’re planning to hand out allergy-friendly candy to trick-or-treaters, make sure to keep the allergy-safe treats in a separate bowl from the regular Halloween candy. Here are some ideas of Halloween candy that is safe for children with certain food allergies:
- EnjoyLife sells chocolate Halloween-sized treats free of the top allergens, plus the treats are vegan, kosher, and halal
- No Whey! Foods offers chocolates that are free of the top 9 common allergens, plus they’re vegan and kosher
- Amanda’s Own Confections chocolates are free of dairy, nuts, peanuts, gluten, wheat, soy, eggs, corn, sesame, mustard, shellfish, crustaceans, sulfites, and lupin
- Surf Sweets gummy candies are made without milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy
- Some gummy or hard candies may be fair game, like Smarties, Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, and Saf-T-Pops
3. Make a plan for trick-or-treating selectively in the neighborhood.
Some of your friends may offer to provide safe treats. Carefully discuss with trusted friends what treats your child can eat. If homemade, make sure to discuss the ingredients and steps, including what was used to grease the pan. (For people with certain allergies, this is super important). You could even supply the treats to friends and make a map for your child to follow, like a scavenger hunt. If it’s your friends who have children with food allergies, offer to do this for their children—it’s something the parents and kids will remember always.
FARE’s Top 10-Free Halloween Cookies would likely be safe for a good friend trick-or-treating at your house with food allergies. Always have the parent of the child with food allergies go over the recipe to make sure it is safe for the child to eat.
4. Plan to have a Halloween-themed dinner.
Make your Halloween meal the main event! From Spooky Chicken Poppers, Mummy Dogs, and Pumpkin Gnocchi to Pizza Dough Bones and Ghostly Cookies, there are many recipes online:
Here’s a sample dinner menu that little monsters with and without food allergies will love:
- Graveyard Layered Dip
- Monster Chicken Fingers
- Mummy Dogs (Make or buy a wheat-free pizza dough to accommodate children with wheat allergies.)
- SunButter Crispy Rice Treats
- Halloween Cake
Many kids’ cookbooks have ideas, and creative young chefs might come up with their own creepy creations. Just be sure to review ingredients and adapt as necessary to accommodate food allergies.
5. Take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Paint a pumpkin teal, which is the color for food-allergy awareness, and support this initiative that has taken off thanks to Food Allergy Research & Education and mom Becky Basalone, who came up with the idea in 2012. A teal pumpkin displayed at a home signifies that on Halloween, kids can trick-or-treat for non-food items there.
By taking the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge, you can help keep the spooky holiday fun and safe for everyone. Keep it extra-safe by using separate bowls for food and non-food treats to avoid accidental contamination. Spread the word by posting pictures of your teal pumpkin using #tealpumpinproject!
FARE suggests the following for non-food treats to give out. You can purchase them at dollar stores, party supply stores, and online. Ask your kids if they have other ideas to add to this list!
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards