Halloween is such an exciting time of year for kids. The costumes, pumpkin picking and carving, and decorations are something that all kids can enjoy as the excitement for the big day of trick or treating approaches. However, trick or treating itself can be quite complicated for children with celiac disease or food allergies. Below I describe what we have found to be the biggest problems and solutions. I hope that they help your little ones enjoy some fun and have a celiac safe Halloween.
Celiac Disease Halloween Safety Tips:
Problem 1: Cross Contamination
Trick or treating involves touching candy wrappers of foods that may not be safe for your child. In the case of gluten, these particles are on the outside of the wrappers and will therefore be on your child’s hands.
- If your child is of toddler age and still puts his/her hands in their mouth a lot then consider choosing a costume that includes gloves (i.e. princess, mickey mouse, etc).
- It’s best to wait until trick or treating is finished so that your child can wash his/her hands with soap and water before indulging. In the cases where others are eating while they trick or treat and you want your child to be able to as well, I recommend bringing some safe candy with you that won’t have cross contamination from the other wrappers.
If the costume has gloves, you can simply remove them before eating the safe candy. If not, I also carry wet wipes to wipe my daughter’s hands down before indulging. Please note, if their safe candies are touching other unsafe candies in their bag then you will also need to wipe the outside of the safe candy wrappers before your child eats them to reduce cross contamination. My daughter is very sensitive and would have a reaction if I didn’t.
**It is very important to note that these solutions above are for children with celiac disease and not for those suffering from life threatening, anaphylactic allergies like peanuts as they will not be able to handle the unsafe candy wrappers at all.
Problem 2: Feeling left out
- In the lead up, there will likely be celebrations at your child’s school. Be sure to bring a safe snack for the class to parties parents are welcome to attend, and make it festive so that it stands out and all of the kids are excited to try it. Also ask your child’s teachers if the goody bags at classroom celebrations can contain non-food items since there are so many fun Halloween themed trinkets. You can get ideas from my post about 15 non-food Halloween treats kids will love.
- The day before Halloween – Supply your neighbors with safe candy or non-food treats ahead of time so that your child will have some things in their trick or treat bag that are safe for them to eat. They will be excited to know that some of the things they are collecting are okay for them to have later.
- The night of Halloween – Consider hosting a pre-trick or treating get together with the other families you are going out with and make sure that all of the treats are safe for each of the children to eat. This will start the night off with a feeling of inclusion and comaraderie.
- Have a safety plan in advance so that you as a parent can remain calm and not let your anxiety show. Let your child participate as much as possible putting their safety first. Being able to partake in this kid-friendly tradition will help them build fun, lasting memories that will also contribute to their self esteem.
- Take pictures! Next time they express feeling left out or different than other kids, show them the pictures to remind them that they can still have fun with friends.
Happy & Safe Trick or Treating to everyone!