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Navigating Food Allergies on Halloween

The most important thing to do to make Halloween both fun and safe for children with food allergies is to plan ahead. Tonya Kratovil, MD, FAAP, pediatric hospitalist at The Queen’s Medical Center, shares some helpful tips for parents:

  • Identify candy that is safe for your children to eat and discuss these ahead of time with your child. 
  • If you are trick-or-treating with your young children, carry your own jack-o’-lantern with some safe treats to give them in exchange, if appropriate choices aren’t available.
  • Make treat bags and pass them out to your neighbors in advance to hand out to your kids.
  • Have an updated emergency allergy plan and medications (Epinephrine, Benadryl) readily available. Know the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction/anaphylaxis.
  • Join the “Teal Pumpkin Project,” which is a movement by FARE, a food allergy advocacy organization. A teal pumpkin on the doorstep shows you offer alternatives to children with food allergies. Invite your friends and neighbors to participate. 
  • Stock up on some safe candy or non-food treats such as bubbles, glow sticks or coloring books. Plan a “candy swap” with your kids when you get home.  
  • Host a Halloween party with fun games, pumpkin carving and costume contests. Invite your friends and neighbors and include a list of safe treats they can bring to share.
  • Don’t let your children eat candy while they are trick-or-treating (unless you are with them). Inspect their stash when they get home to see what they can safely eat.
  • Read the labels carefully. Be aware that the mini- or fun size-versions of candy may not list all of the ingredients or may have different ingredients than the full-size version. 

Even if you don’t have children with food allergies, you can help make Halloween safe for those who do:

  • Join the “Teal Pumpkin Project.”
  • Ask children if they have any allergies and have some non-food treats available for them.
  • Have some candy available that is safe for children with peanut and tree-nut allergies, which are two of the most common allergies.

Did you know that The Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu has a Pediatric After Hours Center, open 7 days a week, on weeknights, weekends and most holidays? Learn more here.