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How to have an allergy-free Halloween

Posted on October 9th, 2007 by Alison Read 11 Comments - Add Your Own »

candycorn.jpgThis will be the first Halloween that my daughter goes trick-or-treating. We’ll probably only go to a few neighbors’ houses, but there is also a Halloween parade down a main street where the shop owners give out candy. As a parent of a child with food allergies, I am feeling a little anxious about monitoring every piece of candy that she receives. I imagine other parents are feeling the same way.

So, I’ve come up with 4 approaches for how we can make Halloween enjoyable for our little ones:

1. The Go-With-the-Flow Approach

How it works: Let your child collect candy and then investigate which pieces are safe and which aren’t.

Pros: You don’t have to do any planning ahead of time.

Cons: What if none of the candy your child receives is safe? Also, this can be time-consuming – will your child wait patiently (ha!) while you check the ingredients?

2. The Fair Trade Policy

How it works: Buy a variety of safe candy ahead of time. Let your child collect candy and then trade unknown or unsafe pieces for the safe ones.

Pros: Your child gets the fun of trick or treating, doesn’t stand out from the crowd, and feels like it is fair that they get the same amount of candy that they collected.

Cons: Your child has to be trusted to not eat any unknown or unsafe candy until he/she can make the trade with you.

3. The Community Outreach Program

How it works: You supply candy or a list of safe candy to the houses that you will be visiting.

Pros: This is good for little kids that may only be visiting certain neighbors and friends. You don’t have to worry about him/her eating something that is not safe.

Cons: This won’t work for older kids who are out with friends and visiting many houses, you have to go around to people’s houses ahead of time, and you have to trust your neighbors to remember.

4. The Just-Say-No-to-Candy Campaign

How it works: Sounds extreme – candy is evil! – but it just means offer non-food treats, like little toys, stickers, etc. This can be done in conjunction with The Fair Trade Policy, or with The Community Outreach Program.

Pros: No need to worry about ingredients, kids love little toys

Cons: Kids probably love candy more than toys! But perhaps given the choice, they may pick toys over candy some of the time, which can help.

Resources to help you have a safe Halloween:

There are many companies producing nut-free candy:

Looking for dairy-free chocolate?

And don’t forget the allergen-free lollipops!

Here is a list of non-food treats from a page from the National and Community Service website about making Halloween more inclusive for kids with diabetes and other health concerns:

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Pencils
  • Fancy erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Crayons
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • Small novelty toys
  • False teeth
  • Superballs
  • “Slime”
  • Miniature magnifying glasses
  • Plastic jewelry/decoder rings
  • Necklaces
  • Glow-sticks
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Plastic medals
  • Fake money
  • Origami paper & instructions
  • Bubbles

Well, I feel better now and I am looking forward to taking my little pink fairy door-to-door for some Halloween treats!

How will you make sure your Halloween is safe?

Related articles:
Halloween candy for kids with food allergies
Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Candy Quick List

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  1. What a fabulous list… thanks so much for all of your work! We’re going with the “Fair Trade” version of Trick-or-Treating… I’m loading up on dairy-free, peanut-free, egg-free, and pea-free candy (the pea-free shouldn’t be too hard 😉 for my kiddo, and will happily trade him for all of the peanut butter cups he can carry (of course, I’ll take them into work to eat!).

    Happy Halloweenie!

  2. Thank you for all these links and ideas! I think we’ll use the fair trade idea this year. The information you’ve been posting is appreciated and now I know what I can eat from the candy bags this Halloween.

  3. This is a great post! Excellent article, Alison. – Karina

  4. Dana, Heather and Karina,
    So glad you like the post. Seems like the Fair Trade policy is the most popular!

  5. Once again! THANK YOU! MOG! This list is PERFECT! I was just about to try and compile a list of GF candy! Now I’ll print a few choices out and call them to make “extra” sure and well do the “fair trade” option since she’s so little (3yo) and I can control her eating any of them. I wanted to see if there was a way for us to donate the candy she CAN’T eat to a hospital where children CAN eat them but can’t go out to Trick or Treat 🙂

    again! Thank you for having this site up and posting about what you do 😀

  6. These tips are great. We use TRADE THE SWEET for a TREAT. A few days before Halloween I take my kids to the toy store and they pick out something that they would really like (we use a $5 to $10 price range). We set the toys on top of the refrigerator where they can see them. Then after Trick or Treating on Halloween, they pick out 10 ‘smart choices’ from their bag to keep and trade the rest for the toy.

  7. We’re starting the tradition of the “Candy Fairy.” The Candy Fairy comes the night after Halloween. Kids leave all their extra candy (all the stuff that’s not safe for them, or stuff that’s junk that they’d eat just because it’s there) out in their treat bag, and the fairy takes it to distribute to kids who couldn’t go out trick-or-treating because they were sick or the weather was bad or whatever excuse you think they’ll swallow. To thank the kid for helping out, the candy fairy leaves a small toy in place of the candy.

    This works really well if you can go out Nov. 1 and get a deeply-discounted Halloween toy to stuff in the treat bag in the morning 🙂

  8. This is a great article. My son is just about 3 years old, so this year won’t be as stressful as I’m sure next year will be. But, I will be trying the Fair Trade Policy. Thanks for the suggestions!

  9. Alison, you forgot to mention our local legend: Mr(s) Doubtfire in person exchanges bags of candies for a toothbush and a toothpaste on his doorsteps.

    I dont know if he (still) does it for real, but there ARE some beautiful fancy toothbrushes and nice toothpastes to play with – and why not use a whole tube of (cheap but safe) toothpaste to do crafts that day? Let’s do a grave for candies and celebrate our nice healthy teeth.

    As for us, we skip the event altogether, and will share safely some treats at home in front of a kid DVD.

  10. Thank you very much! I am including a link to your post in tomorrow’s issue of Parenting News You Can Use! This is a free weekly e-zine sent to parents across the nation by Whole Hearted Parenting. To subscribe or learn more, please visit Thanks again for the very valuable information.
    Wishing you well —
    Maggie Macaualy, MS Ed

  11. These are all great ideas! We are going to do the fair trade thing this year.

    Another suggestion I have is to carry safe candy with you while trick or treating. Its hard to ask a 3 year old not to eat any candy while out trick or treating so I bring a pocketful of treats with me that I dole out as we go so she gets to enjoy herself and isn’t tempted to sneak a potentially unsafe candy from her bag.

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