When you’re a kid, Halloween is the ultimate holiday: You get to dress up as your favorite character, hang out with your friends all night, and get free candy. What’s not to love?
Well, if you’re a kid with a food allergy, Halloween may not be as fun. After all, Halloween candy is notorious for containing some of the top eight food allergens, especially dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, and even wheat. Halloween night might be spent checking labels, asking awkward questions, or—worse—just skipping trick-or-treating altogether and staying at home.
For parents who want to help their kiddos enjoy the classic trick-or-treating experience while keeping them safe from food allergy symptoms, give this trick a try: The trade method.
How the Trade Method Works
With the trade method, your kid can go out and trick-or-treat as usual—without having to ask every neighbor to see the ingredients list, turning down any candy, or feeling singled out as “different.” They can even compete with their friends in the age-old tradition of ending the night with the biggest candy haul.
But before your kid even zips up their werewolf costume, sit them down and agree on a plan. Tell them when they get home from their night of trick-or-treating, they’ll sit down with you and do a candy trade. Together, you’ll go through the candy and separate the “safe” candy from the “unsafe” candy. Any candies deemed unsafe can be traded in for something you agree upon, such as:
Allergen-free treats (try brands like YumEarth, Free2B, Fear Not, Enjoy Life, or Unreal)
Their favorite dessert
A trip (e.g. a museum or waterpark)
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you both agree to—before the trick-or-treating begins. This can help avoid meltdowns later when you’re asking them to surrender their candy haul.
And as for that surrendered treasure chest of treats? You could let the rest of the family eat it, but that might feel unfair to your kid with a food allergy. If that’s the case, try to get it out of the house: Donate the candy to a charity or food pantry, bring it to work to stock the office candy jar, or share it with neighbors.
And psst … while we’re on the topic of Halloween candy, here are the best and worst candies for your teeth.