Has your child been diagnosed with a food allergy? If so, you have probably already learned to read ingredient labels and go over meals away from home with a fine-toothed comb in order to reduce your child's chances of being accidentally exposed to an allergen. But even with EpiPen in hand, you may be stressing over Halloween and its accompanying candy overload — much of which is not safe for some kids with food allergies. How do you handle it?
Educate your child
You may have already gotten in the habit, but now that you know your child has a food allergy, stress to them that it's extremely important to not nibble treats while they're making the rounds. It can be hard to resist, but even toddlers can understand that mom or dad needs to check their bag before they can have any candy.
Sort at home
Once you return home, have your child spread out his loot and go through each piece one by one. Anything that doesn't have an ingredient list, set aside. Anything that contains an allergen your child is allergic to, set aside. Also set aside items that "may contain" or are "processed in the same facility as/on the same lines as" your child's allergy.
Keep your emergency medications handy
If your doctor has recommended carrying a fast-acting antihistamine with you at all times, take it with you on your walk — just on the off chance Junior sneaks a treat before you've verified it's allergen-free. Same goes for your child's EpiPen.
Consider handing out alternative treats
At your own home, instead of handing out treats that your kiddo can't have, think about some fun non-food treats to hand out. Halloween-themed pencils, small notebooks, spider rings or other small toys are a great idea. Or you might consider treats that are less likely to be an issue with allergic children, such as juice boxes or raisins.
Exchange, if necessary
If your child despairs because the acceptable pile is much smaller than the pile she can't have, have some safe treats or toys available to trade her for. Get the unsafe treats out of your house as soon as you can — your workplace (or your partner's) is a good way to get rid of candy.
As each Halloween passes, your child will grow to understand why she isn't allowed treats, and although she may not be happy about it, you can do your part to keep her safe and provide alternatives to traditional Halloween treats.