Navigating Halloween with Food Allergies
October is here and soon parents and children’s minds will be turning to costumes, games and trick or treating. Halloween should be a little bit scary and a lot of fun! Ghoulish costumes, ghost and witches, trick or treating and scary sounds. But for parents of kids with food allergies scary can take on a different meaning when it comes to trick or treating.
The reality is many of the treats handed out at Halloween may contain common food allergens such as nuts, peanuts, dairy, egg and soya. Research indicates that as many as one in 50 children may be allergic to nuts with milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish accounting for 90% of all allergic reactions to food. Allergic reactions can vary from mild rash and itching to stomach cramps and vomiting to Anaphylaxis which is a severe potentially life threatening allergic reaction.
So even if your child doesn’t have allergies, maybe a family member or neighbours child does and it’s good to have a few alternatives to hand to aviod sad faces.
Allergic children do not want to be treated differently from their peers. As parents it’s our job to keep them safe but it’s also our job to let them have fun and enjoy Halloween with their friends, with a little planning and preparation it should be possible to combine the two.
Some tips to consider to make it a safe fun filled Halloween for all include.
- Go with your child to designated houses (friends and family) where you have already explained your child's allergies and have a pre-approved stash of allergy free goodies.
- Go as normal to all houses but agree that nothing will be eaten until you get home and check all treats, any that contain the allergen can be swopped for something suitable. It's important to remember that the ingredients of 'fun size' sweets may differ from the regular-size bars. Sometimes allergy information may not be displayed when the sweets come from a bigger pack, so if in doubt throw it out and replace with something safe.
- Throw a Halloween party and turn your home into a haunted house. Buy a Halloween CD for ghoulish music or create your own play list such as ‘Monster Mash’ ‘I put a Spell on You’, ‘Ding Song the Witch is Dead’ ‘Thriller’ and ‘Ghost Busters’. Hide allergy safe treats around the house and garden and have a scavenger hunt.
- Consider non sweet Halloween themed alternatives that won’t break the bank such as stickers, plastic jewellery or colouring books. Rings in the shapes of spiders & bats, spooky stickers, whoopee cushions or glow in the dark sticks are a big hit with kids.
- Instead of trick or treating have a sleep over party where the kids can stay up late and watch Halloween movies and tell ghost stories. Not so scary Halloween movies for small kids include ‘Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie’ ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ ‘Ghost Busters’, ‘Monsters INC’ ‘Casper’ ‘Beetlejuice’ ‘The Addams family’ ‘Coraline’ or ‘Hocus Pocus’.
- Focus your child's attention on the costumes and party games and less on treats. If you are going to include face painting in your costume, don’t forget to check ingredients for allergens.
- If you go out trick or treating don’t forget to bring your adrenaline pens, anti histamines, hand wipes to clean little hands and a fully charged mobile phone in case of emergency. Consider allergy wristbands or medical jewellery to raise awareness.
- Check with your school or childcare in advance to see if they are planning any Halloween activities and check they are safe for your child.
So with a little bit of pre planning there is no reason your child needs to miss out on Halloween fun. Preparation is the name of the game for a fun filled night for all.
Article provide by Anne Walsh, Allergy Lifestyle
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This article is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider regarding any medical condition or treatment. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.