How do kids with food allergies trick or treat?

“Trick or Treat?” says the adorable 6-year-old girl.

“Oh aren’t you the cutest little fairy I’ve even seen,” says the neighbor.

“Thanks,” says the Mom. “Oh and please don’t give my child any candy that has peanuts in it or were processed on any machines that had peanuts on them.”

While this scenario is unlikely, I do wonder what kids with food allergies do on Halloween. A friend told me her daughter and the daughter’s friends were debating what to do.

Peanuts and other food allergies are more easily avoided at parties or at school. You inform the teachers and send alternative snacks. But when the name of the game is collecting candy from other people’s houses, it’s tough to come up with a suitable replacement activity where a parent can be certain their child will not come into contact with the allergenic items.

Now I guess it depends on the severity of the allergy. I have a friend who has a child with a peanut allergy but I have never head of them not partaking in Trick or Treat. We are careful about candy we share at Christmas and Easter so I assume the mom is going through the Trick or Treat basket pulling any questionable things.

This year, one of the kids has a classmate that is allergic to everything and is allergic by touch to even the slightest peanut dust. So I am guessing that he doesn’t even go out? (I will have to ask at school tomorrow.)

How do you handle trick or treating if your child has food allergies? What are your standards? Do you ask for items that don’t have peanuts or if it’s the big bowl you don’t want to take any chances? What are options for kids to participate who do have food allergies? Do you bring along an Epipen just in case?

39 comments Add your comment

djs_NC

October 31st, 2011
5:57 am

dont parents check the candy before the kids eat it? mine always did and i always did.

mom2alex&max

October 31st, 2011
6:43 am

Check your candy before you give it to your kids! I think kids are more interested in the hunt than the eating anyways.

If someone said that to me at the door, I’d say good night and close it.

motherjanegoose

October 31st, 2011
6:59 am

I did wonder about this,the other day, when I was purchasing candy. I have shared EVERY SINGLE TIME IN MY OCTOBER PROGRAMS to show your candy to a grown up before you eat it.

Typical Democrat

October 31st, 2011
7:05 am

The stimulus is working.
Obama is doing a great job.
Soon unemployment will be below 8%.

new mom

October 31st, 2011
7:10 am

Morning! We thankfully don’t have any allergies here, but if we did, here’s what I’d do: Have some ’safe’ candy (or treats, whatever the child likes) ready at home. Let them trick or treat, then when they get home, let them trade all of the collected candy for your ’safe’ treats. Then let them go with you to donate the collected candy to a local co-op for other little kids. :-)

TallMom

October 31st, 2011
7:25 am

I have several friends who’s children have various food allergies. Their kids trick or treat like everyone else. The kids know they don’t get to eat ANY candy until mom or dad check all of it first.

Some of my friends have extra “safe” candy to trade with the candy their child can’t eat, others don’t worry about it because the kids get SO much candy.

BusyMom

October 31st, 2011
7:35 am

My oldest has a peanut allergy and I’ve never really thought about it in terms of trick or treating. We check their candy first anyway, and anything homemade would go in the trash regardless of allergies. If she has a peanut product, we just take it out and give it to Daddy!

motherjanegoose

October 31st, 2011
7:36 am

OFF TOPIC…here’s something scarier than a Halloween Pumpkin:

AJC Sunday A13 ” a record 49 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit, according to the census bureau.”

It could be easier to dress things up and ignore the problems we have but, at some point, we will run out of candy.

Happy Halloween all!

ABC

October 31st, 2011
8:03 am

It’s simple, isn’t it? Check candy labels and if in doubt, throw it out!

A Mom in GA

October 31st, 2011
8:03 am

Some of the allergy and asthma clinics are having a trunk-or-treat this evening to share candy that is allergy-safe. I know of one out Canton Road area that is doing it for sure.

motherjanegoose

October 31st, 2011
8:06 am

@ ABC…having worked with oodles of children and parents, not much in my life is simple…can I join yours? I needed a laugh as today I will work with 350 children, which will be fun, but I am certain I will be pooped!

A Mom in GA

October 31st, 2011
8:06 am

Here’s a link. A Google search will reveal other similar events in the Atlanta area. http://marietta.patch.com/events/allergy-friendly-safe-halloween-trunk-or-treat

homeschooler

October 31st, 2011
8:10 am

My daughter has a nut allergy. In the past it was just a case of she didn’t like nuts so she gave away anything with nuts in it. Now that we have determined the specific allergy and how severe it is, she can’t eat anything that is processed in a factory with nuts. A LOT of things fall in this category.
My kids love to “trade” when they get back from trick-or-treating. She will likely just trade with her brother and cousins and end up with things she can eat. Luckily she has no interest in eating anything that might remotely make her sick so she is very careful and doesn’t complain if she can’t have something. I might buy her some extra treats in case she ends up with much less candy than everyone else. I really don’t think she cares though.

I have to add that, if you have a child with a food allergy, don’t make it everyone elses problem. We once had a child on a ball team who had a a severe food allergy. Parents who alternated bringing snacks every week were given a list of 5 or 6 things that this kid could have. I wondered why the parents could not just bring his snack separate and not inconvenience every other parent. I happened to have had several things in my pantry that I could have brought for snack but had to make a special run to the store. If I know of a kid with an allergy (coming to a birthday party etc), I will try to accomidate it but it bothered me that this was expected. I would never ask this of a group of parents in regards to my child’s allergy.

@ MJG.. people can still purchase Halloween candy with foodstamps. You don’t think America would allow poor kids to go without candy on Halloween do you? ;-)

wow

October 31st, 2011
8:18 am

The average helicopter parent could go to the door first and see what is being offered.

Roekest

October 31st, 2011
8:23 am

@ homeschooler,

“I wondered why the parents could not just bring his snack separate and not inconvenience every other parent.”

Because then the kid would feel alienated, which would lead to feelings of inadequacy, which then leads to therapy as an adult……or so they say. Kinda like giving every kid on the field a trophy, even if they blew the game or season.

We’re handing our some Snickers and Reese’s PB Cups. The parents of the kids can screen them out, and if they want, they can return the offending candy to me. I, fortunately, have no allergies to that candy and would happily deposit it in my belly.

motherjanegoose

October 31st, 2011
8:25 am

@homeschooler…NO that would be worse than when my two went without cable for years, as there was not money for it in our budget. We used the rabbit ears network and added tin foil.

Thank you Homeschooler...

October 31st, 2011
8:29 am

for the comment, “I have to add that, if you have a child with a food allergy, don’t make it everyone elses problem.”

We have a friend with a child with allergies. She never says a word of complaint and to every birthday party, she brings a cupcake for the child. The child is happy and well adjusted and loves her cupcake. But the important thing is the child has a great time participating even if she doesn’t get to eat the same cake that everyone else does.

It’s shouldn’t be up to the hostess to plan for every child’s food issues.

I appreciate your comment.

Tonya C.

October 31st, 2011
8:53 am

Screen it out or host your own event with your own candy. Simple.

Homeschooler: Wow. I truly wish there were more parents like you in the public schools. It would make life way easier and kids more responsible.

JATL

October 31st, 2011
9:35 am

Amen, Homeschooler!

Parents should check their kid’s candy before they allow them to eat it anyway. If a kid is old enough to go out on his/her own with a group of other kids, then the kid is old enough to understand how serious it is that he/she doesn’t eat certain foods. I give out a variety of chocolate and gummy candies -some with nuts or peanut butter and some without, so any kid should at least get something they like or can eat.

Sk8ing Momma

October 31st, 2011
9:50 am

Really, is this a problem? Why does this rise to the level such that it needs to be discussed? Parents of children w/ allergies: Decide what’s best for YOUR family, make it happen and keep it moving!

Also, if I passed out candy I’d be miffed if a parent asked for an an alternative treat for her allergy-sensitive child. That is is the epitome of bad manners in my book. Whatever happened to graciously accepting whatever “gift” is offered??? If I was in the minority, i.e. had a child w/ an allergy, I would NOT expect/ask parents to accommodate my child.

@ homeschooler ~ Agreed 100%

motherjanegoose

October 31st, 2011
10:08 am

GRACIOUSLY accepting FREE things is a rare experience in my book. I once offered a buy one get one free show for a nearby Kinder ( $100 on my end).

Reply, “we will take two FREE shows or nothing at all!”

Really? Try that at your local pizza joint…haha!

Penguinmom

October 31st, 2011
10:14 am

Most school-aged kids with food allergies have a pretty good idea what they can and can’t eat. I’ve had several kids ask ‘does this have _______ in it’ when snacks are handed out. If there is any question after we’ve looked at the ingredients, they usually decide on their own not to eat it because they don’t want to risk it.

@homeschooler – so very true. My friends whose kids have allergies always bring individual snacks for their kids and there is never an issue.

catlady

October 31st, 2011
10:14 am

However, some kids have a peanut allergy so severe that no one in the class can eat peanut products and then be around her without washing, brushing teeth, etc. So I am guessing that kids whose allergies are that severe only go to houses of people they know that will sanitize their offerings/themselves. I know I can’t have a PBJ for lunch because I push into a class right after that with a severe peanut allergy kid in there.

JJ

October 31st, 2011
10:20 am

“How do kids with food allergies trick or treat?”

I would imagine they knock on the door, and say Trick or Treat, just like all the other kids. LOL

I was at a friend’s house one Halloween night, and one parent actually drove her kid from driveway to driveway, put the car in park, got out with him, and walked to the door with him. She never let her kid out of her sight. He was maybe 8….they got back in the car, she drove into the next driveway, parked, did the same thing…….talk about a helicopter parent…..

JOD

October 31st, 2011
10:24 am

@new mom/TallMom – That’s a great idea, thanks for sharing it.

While I can sympathize with parents of seriously allergic kids, I just don’t get the entitlement to everything being apropos for little Suzy/Johnny. IMHO Halloween is nothing without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (and the tight pants to show for it if I indulge too much). To each their own, but don’t expect to pick what you want when it’s free.

@homeschooler – You are a bastion of common sense. Bless you.

oneofeach4me

October 31st, 2011
10:26 am

It’s a good question… and I never really thought about it because I haven’t had to. However, some parent’s make great points. One being, (homeschooler) don’t make the allergy everyone else’s problem, accept the candy given, do not ask for a replacement, educate your child on why they cannot eat certain things, screen the candy once home, and have a bag of acceptable candy on the side to switch out if need be. I cannot fathom asking the person handing out the candy if they have something more appropriate for my child with the allergy.

On the opposite side of this, my son has a classmate with a severe peanut allergy. My son LOVES peanuts and PBJ sandwiches. He usually eats lunch at school except for about 3 or 4 days out of the month with they are having something he won’t eat. At first he didn’t understand why he couldn’t take a PBJ sandwich for lunch. Once I explained to him that his friend would get VERY sick if he ate it or even touched it, my son quickly became empathetic and said.. “guess it’s turkey and cheese then!” As parents of children without allergies, it is not our duty to go out of our way, or take on someone else’s problem of having a food allergy. It’s just our duty to teach and inform our children of what could happen and how to alter things a little to keep their friends safe. My son was more than willing to give up the PBJ during the day to keep his friend well and just eat it at night or on weekends.

Becky

October 31st, 2011
11:00 am

As homschooler said, if my two had food allergies, I would deal with it and try to not make it everyones problem..We have a child at church that has lots of food allergies..Whenever we have food or go out for lunch, his parents pack his lunch and there are no issues..

@oneofeach4me..My two were the same way..The little boy at church is the first child that they have (as for as I know) had contact with that has food allergies, and they were both willing to not eat boiled peanuts one time around him just to know that he would not get sick..Actually, my boy washed his hands more that day than he has in ever, just to eat..Haha..

Stacey

October 31st, 2011
11:09 am

My family choses not to celebrate Halloween (nothing against it, just not my thing). Fortunately, my child doesn’t have any life threatening allergies but if he did, I would just chose not to take him trick or treating and just buy “safe” treats for him to have at home. My nephew developed an allergy to tree nuts when he was about 15 but luckily he was old enough to know what he can and cannot eat (exposure is fine as long as he doesn’t eat them). He is way at college now but he carries an epipen at all times in case there are “unexpected” nuts in his food but so far he has been fine.

JOD

October 31st, 2011
11:56 am

@iRun and TallMom – Forgot to mention…Thanks again for the hot and sour soup suggestion. It worked!

MatthewH

October 31st, 2011
12:38 pm

My son is allergic to milk (not lcatose intolerant, just allergic), but we don’t make a big deal out of it. He accepts the candy, says “Thank You” and then we look at it later and pick out the milk chocolate or anything that is made with cream. He understands his allergy and is perfectly content to eat sweet-tarts, lifesavers, lollypops, etc.

bessbear

October 31st, 2011
4:01 pm

We try very hard not to make it anyone else’s problem. For Halloween, my son goes trick-or-treating. If a house has different candies in the bowl, and they hand him chocolate, he will politely ask for the others, letting them know he has an allergy. I don’t think that is rude, and everyone has seemed willing to do that. If they just have chocolate, he accepts it, and then at home he either trades with his sister (lucky girl!) or we have dairy-free candies that he can trade with (lucky us!)

As to comments about ball games and snacks – we never expect anyone to bring safe snacks, but we do let people know at the beginning of the season that he has the allergy, and that like any person, he appreciates being included in snack time. If anyone forgets, we don’t make a big deal about it. We always keep alternatives in the car. I think this is what he can expect throughout his life – good friends will usually remember he has an allergy, but he will always have to be prepared otherwise, and no hard feelings. If it’s not something you deal with on a daily basis, I don’t expect you to remember or realize what is involved in checking every food or product that you come in contact with.

denver

October 31st, 2011
4:58 pm

There are obviously a lot of parents weighing in on this issue that don’t have children with food allergies and don’t see any reason that my child shouldn’t be excluded, or at best, ignored, when it comes to holidays/treats/social gatherings/etc. I can’t help but wonder how you all would feel if something about yourself that you had no control over put you in mortal danger every time you came into contact with others, who mostly just didn’t want you to “be their problem.” Or even more likely, this would just keep you separated from lots of different people and social situations that are considered by many to be a “normal” and developmentally beneficial part of childhood – like trick-or-treating, or being an a ball team…

Ignoring it and expecting the child’s family to be the protector/solver/insulator for that “problem” is one point of view. Ironically, just a few lines down, folks are making fun of helicopter moms. Well, if you all don’t want my child to be your problem, or your children’s problem, then who the heck besides me is going to protect him and make sure that he understands how vigilant he has to be in order to avoid actually dieing because most people out there just don’t want to be inconvenienced by his allergies. Granted, the mom driving the car and parking at each house sounds crazy, but did that even have anything to do with food allergies?

And maybe moms like bessbear don’t “expect you to remember or realize” and maybe my child shouldn’t be “everyone else’s problem” – I guess that is “fair,” but I can’t deny how much I appreciate it when friends and relatives ask what kinds of alternatives are safe, plan a meal with at least a couple of foods he can eat, or let US bring the cupcakes to the party so that everybody can eat the same thing and no one has to feel like a pariah. Yes, good parents of allergic kids come prepared, but after everything we go through as a family to keep them safe and well – which is obviously so much more than you all imagine – any empathy or consideration that we do encounter is very special. And hopefully not as rare as it would seem from this discussion.

Fred

October 31st, 2011
6:36 pm

Bessbear: I don’t know how it works in your school, the one I send my daughter to is not public so it’s a little different. We (collectively, classwise, not just we as in our family) DO make an effort to provide something different for kids with problems. Last year one child developed SEVERE juvenile diabetes (how sad). We made sure we sent stuff specifically for him, and his mom gave the teacher stuff on the side in case some forgot. It worked out.

Denver: Get over yourself. You seem like the type of person that wants to limit EVERYONE to your child’s handicap, what ever it may be. If your child can’t run fast NO ONE should be able to run fast. If your child can’t draw well then NO ONE should be able to draw. Get over yourself. People DO make accommodations the best that they can, and we DO care. Well except for those who go overboard and get all fanatical………………….. but maybe I read what you posted incorrectly.

kukushka

October 31st, 2011
7:23 pm

Soooo easy! My daughter (4) has food allergies. She enjoys trick-or-treating, brings home all the candies and then we sort them all – what she can have and what she can’t. And I always have some candies for her at home – just in case.
I would never imagine myself asking for allergy-proof candies (I mean, do you know how many food allergies are out there?).

Terry

October 31st, 2011
7:42 pm

I have a granddaughter with severe peanut allergy. When we first discovered the allergy, we were frantic….expecting everyone at every gathering to restrict the menu to NO peanuts. We couldn’t understand ..and still don’t … why some think PB&J for their child is worth putting our child in mortal danger…but still, now at 13, my grandaughter understands her allergy and is sharply vigilant in what she eats. I guess my point is in defense of ‘Denver’….when you first find about this life-threatening allergy, you go through a great deal of fear and grief. As time goes by you learn to temper your fear. You ALWAYS have safe treats with you …just in case. You live life on the edge of panic 100% of the time, but the key is that you still life your life, and guide your allergic child to live a full life too. Any consideration others give to your child is considered a precious gift.

bessbear

October 31st, 2011
9:29 pm

Denver – I definitely appreciate friends and family who ask and try to make safe options available. But, I will add, that many of my sons reactions have happened from friends and family (especially grandma) who meant well, and thought they read through every ingredient. When my son was around 4, I had one friend who was hosting a birthday party for her son and she said she was planning to have safe cookies for my son to eat. She felt so bad when she realized she had forgotten to buy them. I realized at that point that it is best I always be prepared. Another friend who made something with soy cheese, not realizing soy cheese often has dairy ingredients. Thankfully I asked to see the ingredients before he ate. Good friends mean well, and I always appreciate their asking and planning to include dairy-free items. And I never mind being the person to bring a fresh-baked item that everyone can eat. If there are any positives to dealing with allergies, I would say that you get to become a better cook, and you eat healthier than a lot of other people who are able to eat junk food.

TallMom

November 1st, 2011
8:42 am

@JOD…hope you’re feeling better!!

Breezy

November 1st, 2011
9:13 am

My boys have been instructed to accept what is given and we will trade it out at home for a safe alternative. Most people in our neighborhood know they are allergic and they have been great about having something safe for my boys. We keep safe snacks in the car and at school for those times when everyone else is having a special snack that my kids can’t have. My boys are pretty vigilant about checking the ingredient list before they eat anything.

@Denver: I completely understand. There was one reaction where I was at the hospital with one son, who was in anaphylaxis . My husband was out of town and I was sitting in the waiting room (away from my 8-year-old) wondering how I was going to call my husband to tell him that our child was dead. Praise God I didn’t have to make that call. FYI: The person who gave my child the offending food did not realize it had peanut butter in it. My son spit it out when he realized it contained peanuts, but it was too late. He is 10 now and he is more vigilant about asking the ingredients before he eats anything.

As much as I can, I try not to make it other people’s problem. I don’t expect special treatment for my boys, but I do need those other people to be aware of what can happen.

Taylor Alt-Mama

November 1st, 2011
12:58 pm

My son has hundreds of food allergies, and eats a rotating selection of six or seven steamed foods. He’s not even two yet, and we’re treating him with Traditional Chinese Medicine and homeopathy (Western medicine totally failed bigtime, and these methods have been remarkably effective), but for now, all candy is out. We traded his trick-or-treating loot for blueberries last night, and he was completely happy with that. I guess our prizes might need to be pretty persuasive as he gets older and a little more hip to what’s happening, but we’ll take it as it comes, as many of his allergies may subside. I’ve blogged about our Halloween experience (and strategy), as well as our successes with TCM, at http://www.alt-mama.com. Enjoy!