Having a child with a food allergy or diabetes impacts nearly every aspect of life – including how he or she can participate in holidays and related celebrations. Festive celebrations nearly always include candy and treats, and it can be heartbreaking to tell a child with a food allergy that he or she can’t participate in the merriment of trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in, allowing all children to get in on the fun of trick-or-treating – while removing the worry of its junk-food focus. J. Andrew Bird, M.D., pediatric allergy specialist at Children’s Health℠, says: “I’m a big proponent of the Teal Pumpkin Project. It’s a fantastic project for the community, and it’s becoming more and more recognized as a standard part of Halloween.”
Families can paint their teal pumpkin or purchase one from a local craft store. Placing it on their doorstep signifies that they will offer allergy-friendly treats in a separate bowl during trick-or-treating – or perhaps only offer the alternative treats.
Kids who benefit from non-food Halloween treats
Dr. Bird points out that there are many groups of children who can potentially benefit from non-food trick-or-treating, including:
- Children with food allergies
- Children with diabetes
- Children with obesity
- Children whose families prefer their children not eat candy
Non-candy Halloween treat ideas
There are many exciting, inexpensive items trick-or-treaters enjoy just as much – if not more – than candy. Some ideas for alternative Halloween treats are:
- Bouncy balls
- Glow sticks, bracelets or necklaces
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini notebooks
- Pencils, crayons or markers
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Whistles, kazoos or noisemakers
Such items are readily available at dollar stores, party supply stores or online bulk supply stores. Dr. Bird points out that if you are offering allergy-free treats, consider avoiding items like Play-Doh (which contains wheat) and any toy that contains latex, a fairly common allergen.
Special considerations for Halloween
Even though the Teal Pumpkin Project has grown in popularity in recent years, most homes still offer traditional candy for trick-or-treating. Dr. Bird offers the following advice for parents of kids with allergies: "Carry your child’s auto-injectable epinephrine in case an accident happens. Have a plan in place when you get home, if you decide to allow your children to take candy. For example, some families have a program set up where their kids trade in candy for other items, like toys, once they’re back home."
The highly experienced specialists at Children’s Health can help identify and manage allergies in children. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).