Oct 14, 2010

Allergies: The Scariest Thing About Halloween

Bring on the ghouls, the ghosts, the zombies, the black cats, the goblins, the monsters! In our house, the scariest thing about Halloween is my daughter's life-threatening allergy to dairy. Anaphylaxis is terrifying... you would never know to look at my daughter just how fragile life can be for her. One mistake, one slip, and her life is in danger. That, to any mother, is frightening.

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.

The Treats
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.

Some of the links in this posting are affiliate links. When one of these links are clicked, our family receives a small compensation. Thank you for your support.


  1. Some good points! I'm going to make sure I have some stickers and such on hand just in case :) You can come visit us!!

  2. Thanks for your comment! We plan on making a circuit for Halloween - your area is definitely on our route!

  3. I am so glad halloween is not a big deal here in New Zealand. Having said that there is a disco at our school and one year our neighbours gave R a mini snickers bar which I rushed over and gave back to them. At the time he was allergic to peanut as well as dairy. The treat swapping thing works well at our place. R started school in Feb and before Easter I gave a box of wee treats to his teacher just in case she (or another adult) was giving chocolate eggs to the kids.


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