7 Mom-Approved Allergy-Friendly Halloween Treats You Can Buy on Amazon
I have two small children and each of them has a food allergy—one is allergic to eggs and the other one has to avoid all tree nuts. We carry EpiPens and Benadryl with us wherever we go (even if it's just a trip to the supermarket). We've taught the kids to be self-advocates, to not share food or water bottles, and to never eat anything without asking, "Does this have eggs/nuts in it?" It's a lot to manage—and a huge responsibility to dump on a 6-year-old—but for the most part, my kids lead pretty normal lives. The trickiest times are when food-related holidays like Halloween roll around. It's important to be vigilant to keep everyone safe, but I also just want my kids to feel normal and be able to enjoy their night. And let's face it, poring over ingredient lists at every doorstep in the dark takes the fun out of it for everybody—including me.
So I've developed a few tricks of my own to make Halloween as fun as possible for everyone, but especially for my kids with food allergies.
1. Have a stash of allergy-free treats on hand.
If there's one thing I've learned from raising two kids with food allergies, it's to always be prepared. I can't necessarily control what will end up in my child's candy bag—and so I never really know what will end up in the safe pile and what needs to be removed. Sometimes what's left is a little ... sad. So I always stock up on some of my favorite spooky treats that I KNOW are safe—and that I can feel good about giving to my kids.
Thankfully, companies like Enjoy Life and Wholesome make delicious snacks and treats that taste just like our childhood favorites without some (or all) of the top food allergens. We've rounded up some of our favorite options to help ensure every child in the neighborhood, classroom party or home can enjoy this special day, too.
2. Set the ground rules BEFORE you leave the house.
Give your kids a pep talk ahead of time and let them know that they can't eat their candy till you get home and have a chance to go through everything. You'll have a better chance of getting their attention in the quiet of your home rather than the mayhem on the street surrounded by kids on a sugar high. If your kids really want to be able to have a treat while trick-or-treating, keep some safe candies in your pocket and have them eat those. (Make sure to pack your EpiPens just in case.)
3. Know your safe treats ahead of time.
If you see a bucket of options, you can direct your kids to choose ones you know are safe so they won't be disappointed later on. Find a yearly allergy-friendly Halloween candy guide online from FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). SnackSafely.com also provides a special Halloween edition of their Safe Snack Guideeach year (download the free PDF and scroll to the very bottom to find the Halloween candy section). They update it regularly, so you'll want to always download the most recent version and stop using it after the expiration date printed on the guide.
4. Keep your eye out for teal pumpkins.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a campaign launched by FARE to promote inclusion for all trick-or-treaters. If you see a home with a teal-painted pumpkin on display, that means that they are offering nonfood treats too. There's a house in my neighborhood that hands out LED disco rings every year-and all of the kids look forward to it. For more info, visit foodallergy.org.
5. Always read labels.
Even if you know that a candy is safe for your child, some Halloween-specific candies are manufactured in different facilities and may have different ingredients or cross-contamination risks than their everyday counterparts.
6. Be on the lookout for lurking allergens.
I'm always surprised at the range of candies that contain eggs. Things with nougat like Snickers and Charleston Chew bars are a little more obvious. But even some hard candies like Nerds and some lollipops may contain eggs.
7. When in doubt, throw it out.
Some Halloween candies won't have a full ingredient list on the wrapper. If a candy has no label at all and you can't find the ingredient and allergy information online, remove it from your child's stash. The risk is not worth it.
8. Save the allergy review till after bedtime.
"What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over," as my mother used to say. At our house, we don't throw out unsafe candies, we just put them in the "parents' pile." Our kids are happy to share a little bit, but I've found that for younger ones the review process goes a lot more smoothly after the kids are in bed.