My little girl is almost three years old. Halloween is already a big deal to her. I want her to be able to live as "normally" as possible. So, as long as she's interested, we will find ways to make it a safe occasion for her.
Here are some tips, ideas and suggestions that I have compiled to help our family and others through this frightening season.
1- I'm all about reading! There is a preschool picture book The No Biggie Bunch Trade-or-Treat Halloween that tells the story of children who trade their unsafe candies for great surprises!
2- As always, talk to your child about their allergies. Let them know how important it is that they eat food that is safe for them. If they're not sure if it's safe then they need to ask an adult.
3- Talk to your child's school. What will the school do to ensure that your child is not exposed to the allergen?
4- Also ensure that the school and your child's teacher have written copies of your child's health emergency plan (if you don't have one, a free template is available at Safe-4-Kids).
5- Make sure everyone close to your child knows how to administer an Epi-Pen. Did you know that Epi-Pen offers a free anaphylaxis information kit? All you have to do is register with them and order the kit (which includes a reference card, an instructional DVD and an Epi-Pen trainer).
1- Before your child goes trick-or-treating, ensure he/she has had a big meal. Bring (or send them with) a "safe snack" for if they get hungry while out trick-or-treating.
2- Ensure your child carries his/her Epi-Pen(s) at all times.
3- Ensure your child wears his/her medic-alert bracelet at all times (don't let them convince you that it doesn't go with the costume).
4- Go trick-or-treating with your child. If your child wants to go trick-or-treating with friends then ensure that their friends know the significance of their allergies and where your child keeps his/her Epi-Pen(s). Ensure they have a cell phone and your number in case of an emergency.
5- Only go trick-or-treating at "safe" houses. Family or friends who know your child has allergies can be given safe treats ahead of time to provide to your child.
6- Participate in a fundraiser like Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's annual Halloween Donation Fundraiser. Your child can collect money for a good cause and when they get home, they can have safe treats provided by you!
Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
1- Don't participate. Dress up at home and hand out safe treats. Buy lots and your child can have the leftovers.
2- Organize a Halloween party. Let your child help plan it. This way, you control the food that's provided and the treats that are handed out.
1- If it doesn't have an ingredients label, it gets thrown out.
2- If your child collected a variety of treats, you can buy the unsafe treats from them. For older children you can set a price per piece of candy and it becomes a fun math activity.
3- Trade the unsafe treats for alternative treats.
4- Trade the unsafe treats for a toy they want.
5- Need some safe treat ideas? Pencils, erasers, markers, pencil crayons, activity books, picture books, spinning tops, bouncy balls, stickers, collectable cards, toothbrushes, toy jewelry, juice boxes, mini flashlights, tattoos, etc.
Halloween doesn't have to be so frightening... it can be a fun time for you and your child.
Photo by andrechinn found in the Creative Commons on Flickr