Halloween Edition: Dealing With Kids and Food Allergies During Trick or Treating
Halloween can be an absolute blast for kids that love dressing up in costumes, trick or treating, and watching scary movies. Still, while there is plenty of fun to be had, this fall holiday does pose some dangers, especially if your family has food allergies.
I recommend being extra careful during Halloween this year if your child has any kind of food allergies. A lot of Halloween treats can actually trigger allergic reactions and can even be fatal. Monitoring your kid’s treats can be hard, as kids with allergies might feel left out of the Halloween fun.
Luckily, there are tons of ways your family can safely celebrate Halloween while dealing with food allergies. I’ll go over alternative Halloween treats you can try out with your kids here. I’ll also discuss everything you need to know about kids with food allergies throughout this post.
8 Types of Common Food Allergies
Cow’s Milk: This is one of the most common food allergies for kids and infants. Most people outgrow cow’s milk allergies by adulthood. Adults can develop lactose intolerance later on in life, which is a separate health issue.
Soy: Soy allergies are pretty rare and are seen mostly in children under the age of three. This food allergy is caused by products containing soybeans. Soy sauce, tofu, and soy milk are some popular food products that can trigger an allergic reaction in kids.
Wheat: Wheat is found in almost all foods including pasta, cereals, bread, crackers, and other popular food items. Many children outgrow wheat allergies by the time they are ten. But this type of allergy is often misdiagnosed as a gluten allergy.
Egg: Next to dairy allergies, egg allergies are one of the most common food allergies for kids. Children usually outgrow egg allergies by the time they are sixteen.
Tree Nuts: Tree nuts encompass a wide range of nuts including cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. Most kids who have tree nut allergies end up avoiding all nuts, even if they are only allergic to a few types of nuts. This is because any nut allergy can be deadly. Be extra careful as you look over treats with nuts.
Peanuts: Kids with peanut allergies are often allergic to tree nuts, as well. Both food allergies can be highly dangerous. Some scientists believe that peanut allergies are inherited.
Shellfish: Shellfish allergies are caused by crustaceans and mollusks. This includes shrimp, prawns, lobsters, squids, crayfish, and scallops. A protein in shellfish known as tropomyosin creates an allergic reaction.
Fish: Finally, fish allergies are more common in adults. Many children develop this allergy early on and carry it into adulthood. Children with a fish allergy can be allergic to one type of fish or many, but they tend to avoid most seafood to prevent allergic reactions.
Facts You Should Know About Kids With Food Allergies:
Unfortunately, more kids are developing food allergies each year. This is slowly becoming a more common health problem in the U.S. and around the world. I’ll go over some quick facts you should know about kids with food allergies here:
1 in 13 children has a food allergy in the United States.
Around 6 million children under the age of 18 have food allergies in America.
90 percent of all food allergies are caused by foods with dairy, nuts, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
Over the past 20 years, the number of children with food allergies has steadily increased.
African American children have seen the biggest increase in food allergies.
Food allergies increase children’s risk for other allergies and asthma.
How to Protect Kids With Food Allergies This Halloween:
This year, I plan on going over some safety tips with my kids to keep them alert on Halloween. There’s a lot to know, so I’ll show you some of the most important tips for kids with food allergies here:
1. Read Food Labels
This is a pretty obvious tip, but always check the food your kids bring home from Halloween. Many Halloween candies will contain allergens that could be dangerous. Be on the lookout for ingredients that will cause a reaction. Nuts, eggs, wheat, soy, and dairy are what I look for most.
2. Have Your Kids Exchange Dangerous Treats
Your kids might bring home treats that don’t have an ingredient label. Home baked goods and other self-made candies are really tempting to eat, but they can pose a major risk to kids with allergies. To protect your kids, have them exchange treats with other classmates or friends for more allergy-friendly candies.
3. Stay Aware and Alert
Even if there aren’t known allergens listed on the ingredients of a candy bar or snack, your kids could still be in danger. I’ve noticed that some trace elements can still be seen on the food label.
This is because these products are produced in the same factories as candies made with peanuts, wheat, dairy, and other allergy triggers. Look out for this warning on candy labels. This might be scary to hear, but stay alert for signs of an allergic reaction on Halloween night.
4. Avoid Baked Goods and Other Unknown Treats
We all love brownies, cakes, and other baked goods during Halloween. Kids love to eat these treats if they are going to a Halloween event or party, but you have to let them know the dangers of eating unknown foods. Steer them away from treats that are unsafe and give them safer options. I’ll talk about some safe Halloween treats at the end of this post.
What Are The Symptoms of An Allergic Reaction?
If you have kids with food allergies, you probably know what signs to look out for. Allergic reactions can happen anywhere on the body. Reactions can be mild with a few manageable symptoms. Other times, more severe symptoms may appear. Be on the lookout for:
Hives, welts, and itchy rashes
Eyes that are watering, red, or itchy
Excessive coughing or even wheezing
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, and low blood pressure
What Is The Teal Pumpkin Project?
Parents want a safe way for kids with food allergies to trick or treat this Halloween. I’ve researched a great organization that will help make this possible for you. The Teal Pumpkin Project was founded in 2014 by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). This campaign has taken off across the country and is growing bigger each year.
With the help of The Teal Pumpkin Project kids with allergies can stay involved with the Halloween fun! When you take your kid's trick or treating, look for houses that have a pumpkin painted teal or a picture of a teal pumpkin. Families participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project will offer non-food items to kids with food allergies.
You can learn more about this great initiative here at this link. Also, consider adding your name to the list of families participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween!
Allergy-friendly Halloween Treats to Try:
As I have talked about, Halloween treats come in many different forms. This Halloween, kids with food allergies can still enjoy candy and other fun treats! Just be mindful of ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction. Look over my list to see what allergy-friendly options you can try out this year:
● Non-Food Treats: In my opinion, this is the safest option for kids with food allergies. You can avoid the risk of food allergies altogether by giving your kids fun Halloween-themed toys and accessories, pens, notebooks, and many other options. Bouncy balls, fake fangs, spooky rings, Halloween erasers, and glow-in-the-dark necklaces are just some options you can try. I recommend checking out the dollar store for these fun Halloween treats!
● Hot Drinks: If candy is not an option for you, you can also provide hot drinks as a treat. Apple cider and hot chocolate are still yummy treats for kids with allergies. You can make the drinks yourself and hand them out or provide drink packets for kids to mix themselves. Just check the ingredients of your hot cocoa packers. You can get one without milk or dairy.
● Safe Candy Options: It’s a pain to check each year but many manufacturers change their ingredients yearly. So, be on the lookout for allergens if you decide to get candy this year. Treats that were safe last year might not be safe this year. A few Halloween treats that don’t contain the eight most common food allergens include:
Sour Patch Kids
● Caramel Apples: I know I love a good caramel apple, especially close to Halloween. This treat is easy to make and doesn’t contain common food allergens. Just make sure that the caramel you get wasn’t made in a factory that manufactures nut products. You can check your food label for this information.
● Healthy Halloween-Themed Treats: This final option might not be so popular, but healthy natural treats might be your safest bet for kids with allergies. Consider cutting up fruit and other veggies into different Halloween monsters. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. These are just a few different choices you can go with:
You can turn bananas into ghosts
Tangerines into jack-o-lanterns
Apples into monsters
Halloween-shaped homemade gummies
Fruit kabobs with festive shapes
Halloween-colored popcorn balls
Rice krispie treats in spooky shapes
Final Thoughts on Halloween and Food Allergies
Families can have a lot of fun this Halloween. From festive events to fun treats, there are tons of ways your family can gather together and enjoy the Halloween spirit. Still, when you are out trick or treating I can’t stress how important it is to check your kids treats.
Children with food allergies can be at a serious risk during Halloween night. So, go over the safety tips I talked about and try out some of the safe Halloween treat options I listed here. I hope you and your family have a great Halloween!