Friday, 21 October 2016

Boo! Stay safe this Halloween with allergy kids

Do you go trick or treating with your allergic or coeliac child? Have you heard of the Switch Witch?

Halloween has become a popular child friendly night for some communities, a chance to dress up and catch up for some fun with people in your neighbourhood.

But how can you include your allergic child while focusing on safety?

Last year our family discovered the "Switch Witch". We love Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny.... so why had we not heard about the Switch Witch? 

Switch Witch is a wonderfully good witch that visits your home on Halloween night and trades some of your treats for a toy. She flies from house to house on her black broom with her cat, to collect unwanted lollies/candy from children and generously leaves a wonderful toy in exchange, as a surprise for children when they wake!  It was a big hit at our house! A wonderful way to foster inclusion for your allergy and coeliac kids too! 

At our house we imagined all about the life of the Switch Witch, what she was like, and why she was a good witch. We managed to "switch" most of the collection from Halloween for some fun toys and safe welcome treats. I think the Switch Witch can be what you want her to be, but she is definitely inclusive and fun! 

And I must admit we had avoided trick or treating in past years, deciding to stay clear of it, not only because of food allergy safety but also worries of being excluded. Especially as Halloween can seem like such a food focused event and not exactly allergy friendly. But as it turned out Halloween night did for us,become an opportunity for education and awareness too as we would ask about allergens at every doorstep. And we found a way to be safely part of the fun and excitement!  

Trick or treating quick tips:

Focus on fun, rather than food - Dressing up, imagination & social fun is the best part!  

No label no eat. Every door we knocked on we asked about if there were labels!

Don't accept baked goods. Not everyone knows about allergy safety in the kitchen if they don't live with food allergies

Don't take lollies without wrappers and ingredients written on them.

Ask friends and neighbours to consider offering non-food treats like stickers, glow in the dark toys etc. 

Make a plan before you leave the house. Chat with your child about staying safe but ALSO make a plan for having fun.

Don't eat the lollies or treats until you get home. Take safe treats/lollies for energy. 

Always carry your emergency medications. Don't risk it always carry your Epipens! 

Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project?

A fantastic allergy awareness campaign which has been promoted by FARE is the #Tealpumpkinproject , starting in 2014 it has had fantastic success. This allergy awareness project was initially created by an allergy mum who wanted her allergic children to be included in the special celebrations of Halloween. The campaign promotes the fantastic idea of non-food treats like stickers, and small fun toys and focus on fun rather than just the sweets and food.  Hopefully the Teal Pumpkin Project can become more international to globally promote food allergy awareness and inclusion everywhere.

Happy Halloween! Be spooky, and stay safe!