The thought of endless bands of children hammering on your door threatening a trick or in search of a treat may strike dread into the hearts of the average householder – but think how much worse is the dread if you are the parent of a food allergic child who is desperate to join his or her friends trick or treating. How can you expect complete strangers to understand that giving the wrong treat to your child could be life threatening? But how can you bear to forbid an outing which is, at this moment, the only thing in the world that your child wants to do?…
One option, if you really do not feel you can take the risk, is to throw a party at home where you can control the ‘eats’. Turn your house into the spooks’ layer – you could have a wonderful time making scary posters and pumpkin heads to decorate the house; festoon your rooms with torn black tissue paper (very cheap); turn all the lights off, only using night lights; play lots of spooky music….. Have a spooks treasure hunt with allergen-free treats hidden round the house. Get a Halloween/ghosty DVD/film and play it in a dark room…
However, if you decide that your child would be safe to go out here are a few basic precautions that you could/should take:
1. Make sure that your child has his or her emergency medication on them and that at least one person in their party apart from themselves knows how to use it.
2. Make sure that all the children in the group know about your child’s allergy and that he or she must not touch their allergen – children are very supportive of their friends and if they are given the responsibility of caring for your child they will tend to take that responsibility very seriously.
4. Impress on your child and everyone in the group that if they accept treats, your child (whatever about the others) should not eat them there and then but save them till they get home.
5. Ensure that your child has had a big meal before going out so that they are full and less likely to want to eat anything. Even so, make sure that they have a stock of safe Halloween nibbles with them if they get hungry or if everyone else is eating treats and they don’t want to be left out.
6. Make sure they are wearing MedicAlert bracelet or other medical tag with instructions as to what to do in an emergency.
7. Make them a special cloak or costume on which you paint, in spooky writing but obviously, ‘NO PEANUTS FOR ME’ or ‘NO MILK FOR ME’ so that strangers will see it and at least be alerted.
8. Make sure that one of the other children has your mobile number in case of emergencies.
But – however, scary the prospect for the parents of food allergic children, spare a thought also for those with other allergies and with allergic conditions such as asthma or eczema.
• Latex. Masks and costumes could contain latex – check….
• Eczema. Make up, hair dyes, costumes and masks could all contain substances that could irritate your child’s eczema – check before using.
• Asthma. Masks can interfere with breathing – try using a half mask or none at all. Fragrances in make up, hair dye etc could also trigger an asthma attack – as could running in and out from a cold outdoors into warm houses. Make sure your child has their medication and is wearing a Medical Alert bracelet or other medical ID tag.
Finally, make sure you have something really exciting to come home to so that they are not tempted to stay out too long and stretch your nerves beyond breaking point…..
Foods Matter’s Cressida, who has a three year old son of her own who is just about old enough to start trick or treating, has been busy in the kitchen and has devised a yummy pumpkin soup and a delicious pumpkin pie for supper – both of which need lots of pumpkin flesh so will give you plenty of pumpkin shells to make heads from!
You might also want to look at the About.com site which has a great list of non-food Halloween treats.
And above all – enjoy!