We’re approaching that hallowed time of year that spooks parents. Last-minute costume changes, sugar-induced meltdowns, tracking teens’ whereabouts and extracting a sticky lollipop from the dog’s coat means only one thing – Halloween – and its guaranteed grab-bag of surprises.
For parents and caregivers of children with food allergies or dietary sensitivities, Halloween requires them to have a few more tricks in their bag to help ensure their kids can safely enjoy the holiday.
“Safe” and “fun” can co-exist at Halloween. There are easy ways to plan ahead and help avoid food-allergen related surprises by incorporating new traditions so parents and kids alike can relax and enjoy the spooky nature of the holiday without any scary surprises. So, moms, dads, grandparents and caregivers – grab your superhero costume from 1986, read these tips and prepare yourselves for the best Halloween yet.
- Create a Halloween action plan with your child’s allergist. Food allergies are specific to each child and it’s important to consult the medical professionals who know your child’s situation best. Review the plan, in advance, with your family and friends who plan to trick-or-treat with your child so they can put on their capes and help save the day.
- Spot the safe places. The Food Allergy Research & Education’s (FARE) Teal Pumpkin Project is a recent initiative to help children and parents identify neighbors who offer non-food treats. Teal-colored pumpkins placed at the doorsteps of homes serve as a “safe” sign for trick-or-treaters. This indicates homeowners have giveaways that don’t include food—sending a message that treats and surprises come in more than candy packages.
- Get others involved to help foster a more inclusive holiday. It’s a great time to break out your DIY skills and show others how fun and easy it is to create a community that supports families with food allergies and sensitivities. Host a “Trunk or Treat” party in a community parking lot and invite friends, neighbors and family to deck out their cars and load up their trunks with non-food treats, like bubbles, glow sticks, and Halloween tattoos.
- Develop a candy plan. Trick-or-treat with your child and monitor what they receive as you go from house to house. Carrying around a bag full of goodies can be tempting for kids, so tuck a few “safe food” items in your pocket to help deter your child from reaching into their stash. When you arrive home, create a pawn-shop candy exchange game, so kids can trade in items that may trigger their allergies, for other candy or non-food treats.
- Watch for possible signs of an allergic reaction. Keep an eye out for any symptoms or any out-of-the ordinary behaviors – these could be early signals. If you think your child may be at risk of suffering an attack, follow your allergy action plan.
If you’re unsure if your child has a food allergy, UnitedHealthcare’s 24-Hour Nurse can help you decide which symptoms may need a doctor’s eye. Or, visit Check. Choose. Go. to know your care options.