Q. My 6-year-old son has a peanut allergy. In the past, we’ve avoided the dangers of trick-or-treating by only going to neighbors who provided peanut-free treats for him. But this year, he really wants to venture through the neighborhood with his friends. Do you have any practical tips for trick-or-treating safely with food allergies?
A. It can be difficult finding a balance between protecting your child from allergen ingestions and letting your child participate in normal childhood activities such as birthday parties, sleepovers and Halloween.
When children are very young, the best approach is often the one you’ve previously taken: limiting trick-or-treating to a few neighbors who can provide safe treats. But as children want to expand their boundaries, here are a few helpful tips to keep them safe:
• Stay with your children along their route to provide guidance and supervision.
• Make a rule that no candy is consumed until everyone is back home. (If he really needs a treat along the route, he should allow you to inspect the candy first.)
• Keep any over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications with you.
• Sort through the candy together and make a pile of allergen-free treats to keep and another pile to donate or discard. This process will also teach your child how to identify safe treats.
• Look for teal pumpkins. This year FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) has launched a project encouraging non-food treats. Participating households are placing teal pumpkins in front of their houses.