Current Issue

Forget the Tricks and Keep the Treats this Halloween by Keeping Your Kids Safe and Healthy

Guest Author, Dr. James Yeash, Optum Colorado

Fall is here, and with holidays like Halloween and fun festivities like trick-or-treating coming up, there are many temptations and goodies to be offered. Following a few do’s and don’ts can help make the celebrations a little safer and more healthy for both children and parents. 

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.1 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.2 

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.3 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.4

Optum Disclaimer: Some items and foods are choking risks for children and should be avoided, particularly with children under age 4 or who have certain disabilities. The list includes 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 loot is important, as food allergies can develop at any stage of life.5 Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S., and no parents need that type of scare on Halloween.6  A child having an allergic reaction may manifest symptoms of putting their hands in their mouth, pulling or scratching at their tongues, slurring their words, or their voice may become hoarse or squeaky.7  Other symptoms you may see are hives, abdominal pain, and in very severe cases, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness.8 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, symptoms begin soon after ingestion or if symptoms are progressing rapidly.9

Tricks for Keeping Them Healthy
The spookiest holiday of the year is a good marker for the start of flu season as well. Getting a flu vaccine before mischief night can help keep your child happy and healthy past Halloween and into the family holiday season.10/11

It is also a great time to remind your child of other important ways to stay healthy and safe as they travel door to door, speaking to neighbors to get treats. Children trick-or-treating on Halloween night should remember to always watch out for cars, use reflective gear if possible, walk with a group, and carry a flashlight.12 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 regularly and floss daily as well.13

For parents with children who wear face paint or makeup, it’s important to check out those ingredients as well. Harmful ingredients in face makeup can trigger allergies or cause problems like skin irritation.14 Some tips to help avoid a toxic ingredients and possible skin reactions: avoid makeup with heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, lead and even arsenic.15 To avoid infection from makeup, wash hands before applying and never share makeup with others.16 A good practice is to test a small amount of makeup a few days before to see if your child will have a reaction, and when in doubt, talk to your child’s pediatrician.17

Stay safe, healthy, and happy this Halloween, and be sure to remain healthy throughout the rest of the holiday season by visiting your family provider to get you and your family’s flu shots.

1 Food Safety Tips for Parents – FDA
2 Safe Tips for Trick-or-Treating – FARE
3 The Choosing Wisely Teal Pumpkin Project – FARE
4 Teal Pumpkin Project –
5 Food Allergy Basics – FARE
6 Living with Food Allergies – FARE
7 Describing a Reaction – FARE
8 What Is a Food Allergy? –
9 How a Child Might Describe a Reaction –
10 Key Facts About Seasonal Flu – CDC
11 Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC
12 Seven Ways to Be Safe and Healthy This Halloween | Health Equity Features | CDC
13 Seven Ways to Be Safe and Healthy This Halloween | Health Equity Features | CDC
14 Face Paint and Makeup – American Academy of Pediatrics
15 Face Paints & Makeup: Choose Carefully to Avoid Toxic Ingredients –
16 Face Paints & Makeup: Choose Carefully to Avoid Toxic Ingredients –
17 Face Paints & Makeup: Choose Carefully to Avoid Toxic Ingredients –

Family Food

Newsletter Signup

Your weekly guide to Mile High family fun. Colorado Parent has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up