Sunday, October 26, 2008

Peanut Allergy and Halloween

Last year our son was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. (of course I blogged about it)

Although it was right before Halloween, he was only 1. He was more excited about walking around and knocking on people's doors. He didn't care about candy. Heck, he didn't even know what candy was at that age.

Well this year he is almost 2 1/2 and wants to do everything that his older sister is doing. He knows Halloween is coming. He loves his costume and already has the sound effects down pat. His sister can't wait to walk around with him.

Hubby and I? We both wish the holiday didn't exist. We know that this may be the year that he feels sad because he can't have the candy. I'm angry at the allergy and sad for our son.

We plan on letting him carry around his little pumpkin and go trick or treating. We are going to have little treats to put in the pumpkin when his sister gets her candy but I know we won't fool him. I'm all about honesty with our kids but he is too little to understand why he can't have the candy.

Anyone have any ideas? Does anyone have any "been there done that" advice??

On a separate note... please check back in a few days. I will be posting a video and a request for help from Shannon for her son Ashton.


Stacey said...

See if you can grab some nut-free candy and when you get home, switch out his stash for the nut-free stash without him noticing.

Kristie McNealy said...


We have a lot in common. Our little guy has some severe food allergies as well. Do you have any neighbors you could drop off safe treats with? At 2 1/2, if you make him walk the whole way, he probably won't hit that many houses any way. There will also be things like suckers that will be safe. When you check over their candy when you get home, you could do a little swapping of candy between him and Paige, as well as incorporating any safe treats you have on hand.

Our little guy has a diagnosed egg allergy, but he also had an anaphylactic reaction to his dinner the other night, and we aren't sure yet what he reacted to. Makes eating anywhere other than home pretty scary!

Take care,

Sammie said...

Poor little guy! I wish I had some help but I have no experience with food allergies. I hope you work something out for him!

Eleanor said...

Oh Stacy,
Easter was our difficult time with Thomas with dairy and soy allergies. I blogged about it too -
That was in March.

I like the idea of safe treats dropped off first - you might need to bag it ready to go so it doesn't get mixed in with nutty stuff though.

Whatever you come up with needs to be something you can run with for the indefinite future as he gets older. Maybe a rule about sharing candy when you get home (and no eating on the way!) and so Mom or Dad can be in charge of dividing it up and making sure it's safe. Paige will understand, I'm sure, that things need to be adapted a little to help keep him safe.

Thomas always asks "For Thomas?" "Thomas friendly?" and he knows we have special things in the cupboard which are just for Thomas - no matter how much his brothers nag!! And likewise his brothers have things Thomas can't have - just because it's not Thomas friendly.

So big brothers have choc and Thomas has gummy snakes, dinos, and more recently trains, cars and planes :-) That really annoyed William and Nicholas but that's tough!
So long as they get something special at the same time, it doesn't matter yet that it's not the same as the big boys.

ThePreemie Experiment said...

Thanks for all of the great suggestions everyone!

We went to a Halloween party at the Zoo yesterday and he did really well. He was just thrilled to be able to hold his bag and say "tank goo" to everyone handing out the candy. He never once asked if he could eat his candy.

Kathy said...

Ha. We bought our massive amount of candy for my husband's office's trick or treat last night. (I'd love to go fair trade/child-labor-free for Halloween, but for hundreds of kids, can't afford to buy Halloween candy at Whole Paycheck, I mean, Whole Foods.)

James kept grabbing assorted bags, and then saying, "Oh, but this one has Snickers in it, and that has peanuts." I kept explaining, over and over, that kids who are very allergic to peanuts can't have ANY of that candy, whether it actually contains nuts or not, because it all comes from the same factory.

We were thiiiiiis close to just being the lame people who give out stickers.

Anyway, I think handing out safe candy to your neighbors ahead of time is a great idea. Also, as a kid, we were NEVER allowed to touch our candy until we got home and my parents could inspect it. Eating a good dinner first helps. My parents could have confiscated a good portion and we never would have noticed.

Hopefully the excitement will be about the process until understands what's safe for him to eat.

Another idea: Trick or Treat for Unicef! I LOVE it when kids come and ask for loose change for a good cause instead of candy for themselves, and you can always have whatever treats you want at home when you count up your donations. :-)

Kyrsten said...

My parents held to a "gotta check it first" rule (when we got older, we realized they were also snitching some, of course!). As we changed/bathed/etc. after trick-or-treating, Mom and Dad would dump out all the candy on the table and check through it (ah, the 80s- razor blade scares and all).

Then, everything was dumped into one giant bowl; this ensured fair distribution of candy, as there was no "mine, yours" but only "ours." :)

Couldn't you do the same, and tell your son the "approved" candy will be put in his pumpkin?

Ang said...

My 6 year old daughter has a nut allergy. When she was little, she was also allergic to milk, so Halloween was hard. We bought safe candy, plus some little toys to trade for the candy she couldn't have. The little toys made her forget all about the candy she couldn't have. Good luck - it does get easier as they get older and can understand more.

Sheila said...


Since he's still a very little pollywog, you might try doing what one of Ali's closest daycare friends' parents did (he has a few *severe*, *severe* allergies, plus his family is moderately strict (but not Vegan) vegetarians) when Ian was little, she'd bring two bags with her, one empty one filled with several different kinds of things he could eat. When they'd stop at a house, he and his non-allergic sibs would hold their bags out for candy, then she would say "ok, let me check" and she would quickly view the older kids candies, but when she got to his she'd just slip out the bad stuff and slip in the good stuff. By the time he got to elementary school age, he was *well* informed and protective of his own health (having had a couple of very scary ambulance rides due to "well intended" but bone-headed adults who "didn't think he was THAT allegic" as IF someone would make this crap up.

So elementary trick or treat for him was all about the art of the deal, he'd trade the candy that everyone else wanted for what he could eat out of their bags.

He and Ali are still great friends and he's the ultimate negotiator and peace maker from these early "deal making" experiences.


abby said...

We aren't sure how to handle this either. Our neighbors, whose daughter is ana to peanuts and shellfish, swap out the bad candy (which sadly includes most Mars products) for safe candy after they get her home from trick-or-treating. That seems to work fine for her at age 2.

We took Hallie trick-or-treating yesterday and she was very much into taking the candy and saying "thank you" (she can't say Trick-or-Treat yet, even though I've been coaching her but we expect that she will be able to say this by next year). The big issue for us, as you know, is that she probably will not be able to eat any of the candy she gets at any point in the foreseeable future (though of course we are still hopeful that someday she might be able to, right now I'm treating the status quo as a forever problem and anything short of that will make me joyous). So what do we do next year or the year after--when she wants to do everything the other kids do and can't really enjoy the candy part with her peers? My hope is that we can scope out the houses where they do crafts with kids (there's one block here that really does a great job on Halloween, and they have bobbing for apples---a safe food---and coloring stations and the such) and focus on that instead of collecting candy. Any candy she gets, we can swap for her potato sticks (she really doesn't eat anything fun other than that, sadly). And maybe by the time school age comes along, she'll either understand that her allergies make her sick and avoid things she cannot have, or perhaps in the best of all possible worlds, outgrow something. It does help that she's not anaphylactic to anything (at this point---we've never tried the really horrible stuff like peanuts) so at worst we have severe repeated vomiting and dehydration, but not anything scarier to deal with.