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16 replies [Last post]
By julieb on Mon, 08-20-01, 14:45

With all the stores getting already into Halloween mode, I got thinking about my toddler. He's going to be 2 this October and I surmise he will want to go trick-or-treating with his six year old brother. The six year old has no food allergies but the toddler is allergic to gluten, nuts, soy, and milk. With so many Halloween candies being a "no", how do you handle trick-or-treating?

I would feel bad to exclude my toddler from trick-or-treating. I would feel really bad if he has to give all his candy to his older brother. I was thinking about sending a letter to the neighbors (we have a community of 50 homes) explaining my son's allergy and saying that I would give pre-made candy bags for the neighbors to give my son when he comes to their doors. However, one of my neighbors said that our subdivision has a lot of snobby people and that my letter would cause them all to talk and cause them offense (our neighborhood can take a holier-than-thou attitude and get offended if they think you're telling them what to do).

I don't want to offend anyone but I don't want to make my toddler feel that he is SO different. I was also thinking about letting him pick out a toy from the toy store in exchange for the candy he would have to give his brother if I didn't send the letter.

Any suggestions about how you handle Halloween would be appreciated. Warmly, Julie.

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By McKenziesMom on Mon, 08-20-01, 15:51

What we have always done is substitute every single UNSAFE treat for a SAFE treat when our daughter gets home. Of course I only buy and hand out treats that are safe, so we buy extras. And we always have had a rule, (passed down from MY mother, when all you had to worry about was razor blades in apples) that NO treats get eaten until you get home!

As she got older, she trick or treated with friends and when they get back to our house, they dump their stuff and the negotiations for trading begin "I'll give you this KITKAT for two bags of peanuts and the loose caramel and the unlabelled rockets".

We don't have to worry about anything other that peanuts and tree-nuts, so your job will be harder.

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By Heather on Mon, 08-20-01, 15:55

My son will be 2 1/2 this Halloween and this will be the first year he'll go trick or treating to anyone besides family. We're going to let him collect candy but then I'm going to take all that he gets to work, we're not even going to bother going through it to pick out safe and not safe. Then we're going to have a separate bucket of safe candy that we're going to switch with. I've already started putting that bucket together (partly because my mother just went to Canada for vacation and I sent her with a shopping list). I'm also going to put other things in the bucket besides candy like Match Boxes (the cars a favorite toy of his right now), stickers and whatever other little things I can find.

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By kelly01 on Mon, 08-20-01, 17:11

Hi! I have 4.5 yr old triplet boys who have been trick-or-treating together since they were toddlers. We have handled it much like the other posters. I allow them to trick-or-treat, and then when they come home they turn over their buckets and I substitute all the unsafe candy for "safe" candy (and non-candy treats). At 2 years old, this was really simple. I gave them a safe piece of candy to eat as soon as they got home and then took their buckets to go through. I think all parents go through (or should) their kids buckets anyways...so this is just part of the routine. As far as swapping the candy out, the first 2 years they didn't even notice.

We get rid of all "unsafe" candy at our house, as I don't want the other 2 to have peanut residue all over them. When they are a little older (and neater!LOL) I will give my non-PA sons the choice of keeping or trading in the unsafe snacks. If they do choose to keep their unsafe treats, I will make sure that my PA son as a really good variety to choose from (ie, some Vermont Chocolates, small toys,etc).

I know everyone has different opinions on this, and I know you don't want your son to feel "different"...but the reality is that in this respect he is different. I believe it is better to teach them the different ways we can handle this allergy, then to completely protect them from it. Sure, every once in a while my 4 year old gets a little upset that he can't eat every piece of candy/baked goods, etc that other people can...but we continue to truthfully work through each situation and try to show him all the good things he can have.

I agree that if you send the note out to all the neighbors you are stepping into a minefield. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want to fight this particular battle in this way? If you feel strongly that this is the way you want to handle it...then go for it...but be prepared for resistance. In a neighborhood of 50 or so homes, you are bound to have a couple of jerks. Just make sure that this is how you want to focus your energies before you begin.

Everyone has different opinions on how to handle these situations. Our way has worked well for us. Good luck!!

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By river on Mon, 08-20-01, 17:22

At first I thought that I'd just sort the candy the children collected, but then I realized that having non-peanut candy closed in a bag with peanut candy, (you can smell it through the flimsy wrappers), could lead to cross contamination, I decided to get rid of all of it. I exchange the bags for safe candy, and then the bags go straight down the street to some friends' children---young teenagers who are too old to go out but still love candy.

Peanut allergy aside, I wish someone could come up with a new idea for Halloween, because the whole candy thing is outdated. It began when candy was expensive and people were much poorer. With today's children suffering from obesity and poor nutrition, it's probably not the best way to enjoy a holiday.

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By SF on Mon, 08-20-01, 17:35

My pa 3 1/2 yr old son has always understood about "safe" foods/treats/snacks. We have also given him "Matchbox" cars, stickers, crayons, playdoh, etc. instead of candy. I also do the same when it comes to birthday parties and party favors. Just like Halloween, it is difficult to find safe candy so we just stick to the toys.

Julieb: you will always run into people that take offense and just don't get it. You must do what you feel comfortable with and realize that when your child enters preschool it will be with the same type of people from your neighborhood; some will understand, and others won't. Put your childs needs first. Maybe instead of the letter and giving the neighbors goodie bags, how about you carrying around a "safe" treat bag that your child can pick from at each house? And the small toys are a great idea, he won't feel different, just extra special!!
Good luck, and if anyone has a "safe" candy list to share I would appreciate it! Thanks!

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By momof1 on Mon, 08-20-01, 23:32

Since my son was little (he's 10 now) we have told him that if he leaves his bag of candy by his bed then the "Halloween Fairy" will take it and leave a present in its place. Of course, she also left a few pieces of safe candy, as well. He knew that most kids didn't know about the Halloween Fairy, but he always seemed to just accept it as what our family believed in. It's worked for us, and some of our friends have also adopted this concept. Who needs all that candy, anyway?

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By torontosue on Mon, 08-20-01, 23:40

We have never had a problem with the safe stuff being in the same bag as the unsafe stuff, but here's a suggestion, how about when your child goes up to get the stuff you go with her/him and take the stuff in YOUR hands, then you can carry 2 bags, one for the safe treats and one for the unsafe treats and sort them as you get them. It will take a little bit of extra time this way, but you will be the one in control.

What we have always done (my son is 7 1/2, we have a few halloweens under our belts) is allow him to "buy" safe treats with his unsafe ones...he can trade them in for more candy or use them to collect better things....for example, 25 unsafe chocolate bars can buy you lunch at McD's on the weekend or 15 for a new video, etc.

My boys caught on early on that they can trade their stuff with their friends.(we always trick or treat in groups) My oldest son, who is not allergic trades 3 chocolate bars for one bag of safe chips, etc.

The other option is to not trick or treat at all, and throw a HUGE halloween party at home with of course, only safe treats. (We do both, I LOVE Halloween!)

I was surprised this weekend while doing some back to school shopping to see all the halloween treats already in the stores.

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By torontosue on Mon, 08-20-01, 23:43

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Last year we were asked at over 50 % of the houses we went to if any of our kids had allergies. Lots of people seem to be more aware and had special "safe" (Thanks Nestle's!) treats that they were holding aside for the nut allergic kids!

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By BCUZILUVHIM on Tue, 08-21-01, 02:51

Hi all! Mike is now 9 and looks forward to Halloween so much! He goes trick-or-treating like everyone else and says thank you as they are throwing a Reeses into his bag. I have already bought "safe" candy. We usually trick or treat in my childhood neighborhood since I know 70% of the people there. I don't tell them about his allergy. Back at our own home, I have already hidden a bag full of presents and safe candy. I hang paper ghosts throughout the house giving him clues to where to search for the hidden treasure. I try to be as ingenious as I can with the clues. Any way, after trick or treating, we go back to my Dads' house and we sort the candy. Probably 75% is not safe so that candy goes into my Dads' trick or treat candy bowl and it gets recycled. We then arrive home to our house and he finds the "ghosts" hanging throughout. He gets such a thrill out of the hunt that he says he actually enjoys that better! He usually will get a playstation game and matchbox cars, poke'mon cards and whatever else is currently enjoyed. He is the only one I have so I must say there are a few times that I will indulge, not often but I can't help it. I loved Halloween as a kid and I want him to have the same great memories that I did. He already has his costume picked out for this year. "Johnny Bravo" from Cartoon Network. Well looks like I have my work cut out for me!LOL! Good luck and enjoy whatever you do. We are all in the same boat and want our kids to have a safe and enjoyable holiday! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By teacher on Tue, 08-21-01, 04:08

Hi Julie,

This is what we do at our house, and it works very well.

We have a 6-year-old without allergies, and a 3-year-old PA kid. We have always let them both go door-to-door for Halloween. (Many of our neighbors actually ask if there are kids with allergies, and will keep nut-filled chocolates in a different bowl -- bless their hearts! If we get someone handing out peanuts, we categorically refuse, with a, "Thank you anyway, but we have allergies here. Enjoy your evening!")

When they get home, we let them fish out two or three things (they ALWAYS choose the Smarties!) and the rest gets left on the front porch overnight.

During the night, the Great Pumpkin comes, and leaves books for the kids in exchange for their candy! (The GP = grandma and grandpa! LOL! Although last year they weren't in town, so we simply threw the candy away and left the books ourselves!)

The kids have NO problem giving up their candy. For one, they get to choose a few things (and they are well aware during the door-to-door process that it only gets to be 2 or 3 things). For another, they place a huge value on the books. Also, one year Beanie Babies showed up with the books ... so you never know when the Great Pumpkin is going to get super generous!! LOL! So you don't want to tick off the GP and get too greedy, or he might not leave the little surprise! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

Lots of my friends have decided to do this ... even the ones with no allergies in the house. It's a nice way to enjoy the walking and showing off your costume without having to deal with sugar and candy highs for weeks on end!

I hope this helps to give you some ideas! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

(BTW, I hope no one thinks it's wasteful to just throw the candy away. Frankly, we only let them go to about 15 doors anyway, That way we get the experience without the wastefulness.)

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By Renee111064 on Tue, 08-21-01, 04:59

I have three sons two are non allergic. One will be 10 the other is 2. My pa child will be 6 five days before halloween. My pa child loves to get dressed up and go door to door trick or treating. We go in a two block radius from our house and to only friends and neighbors that we know of. Most of the neighbors already know about my sons peanut allergies. My elderly next door neighbor often brings out treats to my children and always send my pa child into the house to make sure what threat they give him is safe. My children are not allowed to eat anything before it is inspected by me. We empty his bag of candy when we get back to our home. I will allow him to have one or two "safe" pieces of candy. I throw out all of his "unsafe" candy or send it to the grand parents home for a special treat for them. Sometimes he does get a bit upset with all the candy he cannot have but yet he understands too. I usually have special treats around for him to have. Within a few days after Halloween, I throw out all of the candy that is left. (Nobody seems to even notice). THe lollipops I save and give them out for special treats. One great thing about the oldest child is that he really looks out for his younger brother and watches over him with his food allergies.
Well good luck to you! Trick or treat!
Renee [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By ryan's mom on Tue, 08-21-01, 10:34

Lots of great ideas here!

We do the usual trick-or-treating around the neighborhood and graciously accept any candy. My older, non-PA daughters take the peanut candy for my son and put it in his bag if that's the only option, or sometimes they just say, "Sorry, he can't take any because he has a peanut allergy." My gosh, most people are so apologetic because they feel sorry for the little guy. Talk about guilt trips! One look into a mildly disappointed 4-year old's eyes that can't have any goodies makes most people feel really bad. At least that gets them to think about it for a couple minutes or so.

Of course, about 3/4's of the candy gets thrown away at home. We carefully go through each bag to inspect and make decisions. Then I bring out a 1/2 lb box of Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates for each kid and am planning to do trades this year with safe Canadian candy like Smarties, KitKats, and Coffee Crisps. I'll make my own candy and throw it in the pot too. Last year, we didn't have the Canadian candy so I gave them gifts. One daughter wanted one of those Hollywood Premiere Barbies and the other wanted a Techno dog. My son received, what else, TRUCKS! They were so thrilled and didn't even seem to care about the candy once they got presents. I may scale down the gifts quite a bit this year because of the addition of safe Canadian candy I can trade for the peanut stuff. Every year I guess will be a little different as each child goes through different phases. Still, my daughters do get a little sad when I throw out the peanut candy. They go through a slight case of the "I'm not the one with the peanut allergy blues."

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By MattsMom on Thu, 08-23-01, 05:55

Last year we didn't even go trick-or-treating. The kids were not quite 3 and not quite 2. We had the Great Pumpkin come visit and leave safe candies and other non-candy treats, instead. This year, though, the kids are a little older and already are getting excited about 'trick-or-treating' (thanx, TV!) and wearing costumes. Sooo, I think we're going to do a little of both. What I plan on doing this year is letting them dress up in costumes, and trick-or-treating..not for candy (we have a whole lot more allergies to manage this time...most found in candies)..but for Unicef instead. Then the Great Pumpkin will visit their house while they're gone and leave them some of their limited varieties of safe candy and a gift of some sort. As they get older, we'll explain more about what Unicef is, but for now I think we'll keep it to "We're going to collect money to send to little boys and girls who need to buy food and medicene, but don't have a lot of money."

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By SF on Thu, 08-23-01, 22:09

Mattsmom: what a wonderful idea to collect for a charity or special cause, and a valuable lesson to teach your children to be giving people! I think I will incorporate many of the ideas here when planning our halloween. My 3 yr old has not mentioned it yet; but I'm sure he will, and I will have a safe halloween plan in place for us!

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By PattyR on Thu, 08-23-01, 23:03

We have always done the substitute candy thing. It had always worked until last year. I bought small sized Hershey Bars to trade with him. I thought I had gotten everything but I had overlooked a Hershey with Almonds that looked almost identical. Don't you know that is one of the first ones that he decides to try! The only difference was the words "with almonds" at the bottom but the coloring of the letters was faint.
Now my son doesn't want to trick or treat and it breaks my heart. I think a better solution is to trade the whole bag rather than trying to pick through it. My son was fine but it was the first time we had to give the Epipen.

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By julieb on Fri, 08-24-01, 18:29

Thank you everyone for your wonderful ideas, stories, and insights. Your advice certainly has given me the inspiration to start our own Halloween traditions this year. Again, my many thanks for your responses! Warmly, Julie.

P.S. I've given up on the idea to let the neighbors know of my son's allergy. It's sad but true that the jerks in the world make a bigger stink and I don't want to get caught down wind. Grin.

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