CLEVELAND – Getting dressed up and going door-to-door for free candy is a kid’s dream.
But for parents of children with food allergies, Halloween can sometimes feel like more of a nightmare.
Sandra Hong, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, said kids with food allergies can go trick-or-treating, but, it’s wise for parents to hit the streets with a plan.
“If they’re going to actually be trick-or-treating, maybe you could have a safe snack for them, so that as they go from house to house, they’ve got something to munch on,” she said. “It’s really important that they don’t eat from the bags as they’re going.”
Dr. Hong advises parents to also make sure they have a cell phone with them, that’s fully charged, in case of an emergency, and to have the child’s epinephrine pen handy at all times.
When trick-or-treating is over and everyone is home – consider a treat ‘exchange’ to unload potentially unsafe candy.
“Sometimes parents will do some really great things where they come home and the ‘Halloween Fairy’ comes,” said Dr. Hong. Then they can actually go ahead and trade out all their candy for a ‘super’ treat that’s safe.”
Dr. Hong said most kids can typically tolerate gummy candy or suckers, it’s the chocolate and nut-containing candies that usually have more bothersome allergens in them.
And even if your child isn’t impacted by food allergies – there are likely little ones in your neighborhood who are.
Placing a teal pumpkin outside of your house tells parents of children with food allergies that you have safe options for their kids.
“You can support others with food allergies by having non-food items, such as bubbles, or chalk, or things that they might find really interesting – this allows them to not feel like they’ve been left out,” said Dr. Hong.