Halloween can be a scary time of year for parents of children with food allergies.
Whether they have a nut, gluten, lactose or other type of allergy, knocking door to door asking strangers for sweets can result in your little one receiving treats that aren't suitable for them.
Thankfully there are some things you can do to avoid their Halloween fun turning nasty, without them feeling like they are missing out.
1. At school
Dealing with allergies around Halloween can be a lot easier in school than outside.
- Make sure the teacher is aware of your child’s allergies - even if you told them at the beginning of the year, a gentle reminder will help put your mind at ease.
- If the school is providing sweets for the children, ask them to include some that are suitable for kids with allergies too, so that your child won’t feel so different.
- If this isn’t possible, provide the school with sweets your child can eat.
This is when things can become a little risky, particularly if you aren't bringing them around yourself.
- For dealing with trick-or-treaters at your door, make sure to have an array of treats that any child can have.
- Ask children if they have any allergies their parents told them about – after all, you’d be delighted if all parents asked your child this on the night!
- Explain to your child as best you can the importance of eating only the sweets suitable for them, and if at all possible, pair them up to go trick-or-treating with another child who may have similar allergies.
- Until your child is old enough to understand and deal with their allergy, it may be a wise idea to go with them, or offer to chaperone a small group of trick or treaters.
- Always carry their medication with you as a precaution (accidents can happen) and if someone offers to chaperone a group your child is with, let them know all of the details they may need.
- While trick-or-treating, carry sweets and foodstuffs suitable for your child and swap any unsuitable ones they may get with these – that way they won’t feel too cheated!
- Don’t forget to pack a torch in your handbag to make it easier to check labels for ingredients if you decide to do it this way.
- You can also try to swap the unsuitable food items for things such a colouring books, books or small toys that your child might actually prefer!
3. Halloween Party
Another option is to skip the trick-or-treating and organise a small gathering at your home for your child and their friends. This way, you can control what your child eats and won’t have to fumble with wrappers and check ingredients in the dark.
Unfortunately, it may happen that your child ends up upset about feeling different no matter how hard you have tried to distract them from this, but it is essential and a small price to pay so don't worry about it.