For many kids (and me personally), Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year! There is nothing better than putting a fun or spooky Halloween costume on and then going door to door for treats or participating in Trunk-or-Treat.
However, for many children with food allergies, Halloween can be a disappointing time where they may feel left out from their friends, parties, and seasonal activities. Little ones in particular can get frustrated when they can’t eat the candy they were given in their basket or told they can’t even take it in the first place.
During the last few years, thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, Halloween doesn’t have to be an upsetting time for children with allergies. As more classrooms, households, and business have adopted allergy-friendly environments and lifestyles, there is now more widespread awareness of children with allergies.
Below are some tips on how to stay safe and organized during your allergy-friendly Halloween and some allergen-free candies and items that your kids will love just as much.
Our experience with allergies
When we were first started introducing foods to my daughter, she unfortunately had a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter and eggs, which included hives and gastrointestinal issues. This prompted us to have her see an allergist, who diagnosed her with life threatening allergies to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts, if she were to be exposed again.
Both my husband and I don’t have food allergies, so this completely changed our world in a scary way. We had to keep an epi-pen with her at all times, frequently check food labels before giving it to her, tell food servers her allergies when we go out to eat, and convert our home into a nut-free household.
Over time we have adjusted to the new normal, and have become pros in baking foods with egg substitutes and making others aware of her allergies.
Halloween, however, has thrown us a curve ball since it is a holiday where candy predominantly takes the spotlight, and unfortunately, a lot of the yummy candies out there counteract with her food allergy.
Since she is 2 this year and well aware of the festivities going on during Halloween, I decided to research some safe alternatives for children with food allergies, especially during this unprecedented time with COVID-19. Here are my following recommendations:
Think “Candy-Free” Treats
Disclaimer: Make sure you supervise your child at all times during play with new and small items.
Although candy takes the spot-light for Halloween, there are also a lot of other fun “candy-free” treats available that particularly appeal to toddlers and young children. Clearly, this is the safest option as they would have no contact with food or factories that use high allergen ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about checking labels for allergy-friendly ingredients.
Pencils, rubber ducks, stickers, and non-toxic stamps (to name a few) are safe toys appropriate for young children. Depending on the ages of your children or neighborhood children, you can opt for items geared toward school-aged kids or toddlers and little ones.
These can be distributed in individual goodie bags (to prevent any germs during the current pandemic) or displayed on a table/ front porch to make it safe for all trick-or-treaters.
Your child’s dentist would approve of these non-candy treats because they’re much healthier and kinder to our growing children’s teeth!
Look for Allergen Friendly Candy
Disclaimer: Make sure ingredients are double checked based on your child’s individual needs, and they have safely eaten this candy in the past.
If your child is on the hunt for candy, there still are delicious candy options that are allergy friendly (free from top 8 allergens- wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish/shellfish, gluten). Here are some of the most popular allergen-free candies out there, as well as some new ones on the market:
- Enjoy Life Brand Mini Chocolate Bars
- MadeGood Mini Granola Snack Bars
- YumEarth Brand fruit snacks, candy corn, lollipops
- Swedish Fish
- Sour Patch Kids
- Candy Corn
- Rings Pops
When Trick-or-Treating (use a mask this year), make sure you alert people who answer the door that your child has a specific allergy. This way you can see if they have any preferred candy that they can safely eat. This will avoid unnecessary disappointment when it has to be taken away from them later on.
If your child is taking their own from a bowl or individual goodie bag, always go with a young child to make sure there are safe options for them. If you have a young one or a child who just began experiencing the allergy, this will help teach them how to to make their own safe choices when choosing candy or treats.
As you go through their goodie bags after trick-or-treating, explain to them which ones are safe for them to eat and why.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
For those who are unaware, the Teal Pumpkin Project was an initiative started by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization, with a pledge that promises “Raising food allergy awareness and offering the option of non-food trinkets and toys in a separate bowl makes Halloween safer and more inclusive for all trick-or-treaters”.
The teal pumpkin meaning
Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means that you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys, or allergy-friendly treats, (such as the foods listed above). This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.
This year, my family took a pledge to make Halloween more inclusive for all Trick-or-Treaters and safe for everyone participating, specifically children with food allergies. Here are some resources and teal pumpkin ideas for your family to raise awareness for the Teal Pumpkin Project!
Teal Pumpkin Ideas
There are many ways to show that your home and child are aware and participants of the Teal Pumpkin project. Here are some teal pumpkin ideas to display your pledge and make it known that your child has an allergy and your home is allergy-friendly.
1. Place teal pumpkins and decor on your porch
This teal pumpkin is from Target and is actually carvable! This way, your child can carve their own teal pumpkin so they’re aware of the meaning and can tell other family and friends about it too.
Displaying the teal pumpkin on your porch, doorstep, or by your candy bowl shows that you are participating in the teal pumpkin project and are offering allergy-friendly treats.
Please do not display a teal pumpkin if you are not exclusively offering allergen-free treats or are there to distribute the candies to the children with teal buckets. This could result in children receiving dangerous ingredients and foods.
2. Place a Teal Pumpkin Project flag on your lawn
This flag can be displayed on your lawn or in front of your house to also show that you are an allergy-friendly household.
3. Set up a Trick-or-Treat “teal” table
Set up a table outside on your front lawn with a teal table cover (Dollar tree) and individually wrapped treat or non-treat goodies.
4. Print signs from The Teal Pumpkin Project to display
There are signs available from the Teal Pumpkin Project website that you can display on your table or in a window.
5. Have your child use a Teal trick-or-treat basket
Even though your home is displayed as allergy-friendly, you still want it to be known that your child has an allergy. Hopefully other households have enough awareness of the teal pumpkin meaning and can adhere to the guidelines.
You can also use these buckets to store candy in to display on your porch if you have two different sets of treats for allergy and non-allergy. The child should know which bucket they should be taking candy from.
I hope you enjoyed these ideas for having an allergy-friendly Halloween with your child and learned some Tela pumpkin project ideas. Have a safe, fun, and spooky holiday! Happy Halloween!
About the Author:
My name is Rebecca Razzano. I am a proud Mommy of a 2 year old girl and 3 month old boy, and my days are filled with snuggles and lots of giggles, with the occasional cry (or 2)! I am a pediatric occupational therapist from NJ. I usually am working with littles ones in an elementary school, but right now I am a stay at home mom. Every day is an adventure in my household, and I can’t wait to share more stories and activities with you! You got this!