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 or dietary restrictions 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.
“I’m a big proponent of the Teal Pumpkin Project,” says J. Andrew Bird, M.D., Director of the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern. “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 teal pumpkin treat ideas 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.
Other allergy-friendly Halloween tips
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."
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A Teal Pumpkin on doorsteps on Halloween signifies a home that is offering allergy-friendly treats. A doctor from @ChildrensTheOne shares how to make your home the perfect stop for kids with food allergies, diabetes or other dietary restrictions. Click to tweet.
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The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).