By Dr. Neha Esmaeili
Halloween and trick-or-treating are just around the corner. With all the temptations and goodies to be offered, following a few simple do’s and don’ts can help make the celebrations a little safer and healthier for everyone involved.
Treats for Special Diets
Food allergies can put a damper on any kid’s fun, especially during Halloween. Parents are reminded to examine the label of all candies to ensure your child’s allergen isn’t present and are cautioned to not allow any home-baked goods or foods that are not commercially wrapped to be eaten. It is important to keep in mind that mini or bite-size versions of candy might have different ingredients than their full-size versions. To be sure last year’s treats aren’t this year’s trick, impose a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule until you have time to review all food labels and check for tampering.
Handing out candy to little ghosts and goblins on Halloween is part of the holiday experience and there’s a fun and easy way to make it even more inclusive for the one in 13 kids who have food allergies or intolerances. The Teal Pumpkin Project created by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization suggests placing a teal colored pumpkin out front signaling it contains allergy-friendly candy or foods as well as non-edible treats like small toys, glow sticks, or stickers.
Keep in mind that some items and foods are choking risks for children and should be avoided, particularly for those children under age four or who have certain disabilities. This can include certain foods, small toys and any item small enough to place inside the mouth.
Keeping a watchful eye on your kids while they enjoy their treats is important as food allergies can develop at any stage of life. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S. and no one needs that type of scare on Halloween!
A child having an allergic reaction may show symptoms such as:
- Putting their hands in their mouth
- Pulling or scratching at their tongues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurring their words or their voice becoming hoarse or squeaky
- Hives, abdominal pain, and in very severe cases, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness are also symptoms
If you think your child is having an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical care. Calling 911 may be needed in some cases particularly when a severe reaction occurs, the symptoms begin soon after ingestion, or if symptoms are progressing rapidly.
Tricks on Keeping Kids Healthy
This is also a great time to remind your child of other important ways to stay healthy and safe as they travel door-to-door getting treats. Children trick-or-treating on Halloween night should remember these safety rules:
- Watch out for cars
- Use reflective gear if possible
- Walk with a group
- Carry a flashlight
With the increase in sugar intake in your child’s diet, it is also important to remind them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily as well.
For parents with children who wear face paint or makeup it’s important to check out those ingredients as well. Harmful substances in face makeup can trigger allergies or cause problems such as skin irritation. To help avoid toxic ingredients and possible skin reactions avoid makeup with heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic. To avoid infection from makeup, wash hands before and after applying and never share makeup with others.
Many children look forward to Halloween all year long. With a little planning, you and your family can make this year’s trick or treating just as safe as it is enjoyable.