This is the time of the year when I walk along the aisle at the grocery store, checking labels, fruitlessly hoping for more safe items for my food allergic child. I tend to overbuy candy so my son can have a variety of candy to trade with his unsafe candy from trick or treating.
Tonight there is a Pumpkin Festival at the school and I have to admit, there's a part of me that dreads it. The kids will participate in games and be rewarded with candy. Each child that is attending was asked to turn in a bag of candy. I turned in my some of my son's favorites. I know there are bags and bags of candy that my son cannot enjoy. My son handles it pretty well. We have a candy stash at home where he can trade in any unsafe candy that he gets. But, I still dread the process because even if you know you can trade in unsafe candy, it's isn't that fun being rewarded with candy you can't eat.
With candy on my mind, let me tell you what you can do to help children with food allergies this Halloween:
* Let the trick or treater chose the candy. * When handing out candy, hold out the bowl of candy for children to choose the candy they get. A child with a food allergy will appreciate being able to pick a candy that is safe.
My son loves to pick his own candy out. At 8, he's aware of unsafe candy. Last year, it was always a let down when someone handed him something he couldn't eat. He knows it's going to happen. He knows he can trade it in at home. But, it just isn't fun to be given something you can't eat.
Other ways to help, include:
Provide non-chocolate candy options. The majority of chocolate candies are processed on equipment that is shared with nuts (plus, they are unsafe for those with a milk allergy). Candies such as Dum Dum Lollipops and Smarties are fantastic. Both varieties have an allergy note on the packaging that state they contain none of the 8 major allergens.
Provide non-candy options. This is a highly suggested option by food allergy parents. However, I have to admit that my son doesn't get excited about pencils and stickers. If you do go this route (which is great), have some items boys would love - spider rings, glow sticks, stretchy critters, or bouncy balls.
If you know a child in your neighborhood that has a food allergy, a really kind thing to do would be to find out the child's favorite candy and have it on-hand. One year, a neighbor bought my son his own regular size version of his favorite candy. The look on his face was priceless. He felt special and it was a huge treat on a night that contains a lot of forbidden treats.