Halloween can feel overwhelming, difficult and even a little bit sad when you have kids with food allergies. As a parent, it’s our job to keep our kids safe and protected, but it feels much more daunting on days like Halloween, when you’re constantly scanning the area for offending foods, allergy-free candy, and approaching doors with your kids to help them navigate the candy-filled cauldrons full of items that could potentially cause a life-threatening reaction, and rejoicing in the little moments when you find someone who is handing out pencils, instead of Snickers!
We want our children to have experiences like any typical child, but the reality of our life is that Snickers bar could kill our daughter in a matter of minutes, or could cause our son digestive distress for days. Our daughter is anaphylactic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and mustard. Our son is allergic to corn, and though he’s not anaphylactic, it’s still a dangerous substance and causes him stomach pain and illness when ingested.
As you can imagine, corn and candy are a match made in heaven with the ever-abundant presence of corn syrup in the standard American diet. For our daughter, even reaching into candy buckets or her treat bag is like navigating a mine field, since she can have reactions just by physical contact.
Halloween night, after the festivities have died down, we are usually sorting through candy, trying to find something she can enjoy, knowing our son’s bag is likely off-limits to him entirely. I often buy back up candy, just so that they have a fun treat to enjoy if the treat bag yields no treasures. But that lone pencil...oh that lone pencil! We celebrate it as if it’s the greatest treasure ever know to man!
In recent years, the Teal Pumpkin Project has come about. Places of business or homes will place a teal pumpkin at their entry way, indicating that they have allergy-friendly treats on Halloween night. A welcome sight for families like ours and a truly special experience for our kids. Although, I’ve only even seen a teal pumpkin maybe once or twice in the 5 years, we’ve been parenting allergic children, but awareness is growing and I’m happy to see if becoming more mainstream!
So I thought I’d share some quick ideas for treats to hand out on Halloween that food allergy friendly, but any kid can enjoy!
I think it’s important to include non-food treats as much as possible, which is actually so fun for the kids because who isn’t excited to receive a new bouncy ball, gooey slime (spooky and creepy and perfect for this holiday), scary spider rings, the ever-popular pencil, etc. Anything a kid can get excited about. Think 25 cent toy machines you see at the grocery store, kids love them, the treasures aren’t expensive and they bring great joy. Most stores these days have an entire kiosk dedicated to non-food treats in the Halloween aisles. Like little party favors for Frankenstein and little ghouls and goblins out in the night, celebrating one of our most beloved holidays!
And because everyone really does love an edible Halloween treat, I’ve included a couple of treats that can often be safe for a variety of kids...These Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Minis are Gluten & Dairy-Free (actually, all of the Enjoy Life Foods snacks are Top 8 allergy-free) and the Annie’s Homegrown Organic Bunnies & Bats Berry Patch Gummies, which are also Top 8 allergy-free and are a staple in our home, even outside of the Halloween season. Both of these treats are delicious and available at several stores in perfect, pint-sized packages, fitting for that Halloween treat bucket!
Have a spooky, safe and allergy-friendly Halloween!