Halloween tips for families dealing with a child's food allergy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The scariest night of the year is just a few days away now.

Kids all across the area are trying on their Halloween costumes, again and again, and they can't wait to go door to door for that candy.

For some families, however, Halloween is a frightening night for a different reason.

Kids with food allergies can't eat Reese's cups or even Kit Kats.  They either have peanuts in them or they're made in factories where there are nuts.

Many families have had to get creative so these kids can have just as much fun as everyone else on Halloween.

Kyle and Kevin Stokes are all set for Halloween, even though this holiday, for Kevin, is one of the more dangerous of the year.

"We take our Epi pens with us and we take safe candy with us.  I make sure I feed them before we go," said mom Jodi Stokes.

Kevin can't go near peanuts, tree nuts, or anything with eggs.  Halloween candy is packed full of everything he can't have but his mom doesn't let that stop them.

"We go trick or treating just like any other kid that does not have food allergies. When we get back Kevin feels extra special because the 'Good Witch' comes at night and trades the candy that's not safe for him for candy that is safe for him," Stokes adds.

It's a creative way the family has found to keep the night special and safe. Hundreds of families across the area are in the same boat and they turn into investigators on October 31st.

"Any time a child eats something made outside the home there is a risk there. Luckily with Halloween there is labeling on those packages and parents need to learn how to read those labels," said Dr. R. Scott Spies with Matthews Children's Clinic.

He adds candy companies are improving their labeling and allowing parents to feel armed with information.

Stokes uses Halloween as a learning experience.  With candy in the house they don't normally have, she can talk about what is safe.

"For example, Kitt-Katts made in Canada aren't made in factories where there are nuts but the American ones may contain peanuts," she said.

With information like that in hand, no child has to miss out or feel left out.

"It should be fun for all kids whether they have a food allergy or diabetes, they should all be involved," Stokes said.

Jodi Stokes is a coordinator with Parents of Allergic Kids, Charlotte Chapter.  For more information about that organization, click here.

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