To celebrate here’s a quick video of our patients from last Halloween, showing all the trick-or-treating that happened on our floors. At Boston Children’s we believe that a stay in the hospital shouldn’t mean that a child has to miss out on all the things that make being a kid great. Our Child Life Specialists always go above and beyond to normalize hospital life as much as possible, and this video is a great example.
And if your little ones will be out trick-or-treating tonight, please follow these safety rules!
• Walk in groups with a trusted adult. Never let children trick-or-treat alone.
• Use a flashlight to help them see (and help others, especially drivers, see them).
• Always walk. Children should never run from house to house.
• Wear well-fitted masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision or trips and falls.
It’s safe to say that Halloween is the most child friendly of all the holidays. So, being the largest provider of health care to children in Massachusetts, it’s only natural that Boston Children’s pulls out all the stops every October 31. To do so our Child Life specialists set up trick-or-treating stations for patients whose hospitalization keeps them from going door to door.
Maureen Simoncini, whose infant son Brody has been at Boston Children’s for the past 233 days, especially appreciated this year’s festivities because it allowed her family to appreciate Halloween together.
“Brody’s older brother Jameson wouldn’t have gotten to spend the holiday with his kid brother without this,” she says. “You only get so many Halloweens as a kid. Knowing that Jameson wasn’t denied that fun because we were looking after Brody in the hospital means so much to our family.”
Much of this year’s candy was donated by UNREAL Candy, a Boston-based company looking to “unjunk” sweets, by creating healthier candy options.
For children with food allergies Halloween can be very frightening. Not only could there be allergens lurking in their trick-or-treat bags, but they may also dread feeling left out of some of the season’s food-related festivities. Here are some things you can do to make sure your child with food allergies has a fun and safe Halloween:
- Teach your child which candy is safe. These days, most people give out pre-wrapped, name-brand candy, which means kids with food allergies can quickly recognize safe foods. Teach your child to recognize and avoid problem treats so he or she can pass on them without drawing attention to the issue. This is particularly important if they are going out on their own and may sneak a treat or two before coming home.
- Encourage trading for allergy-safe candy. If your child receives allergy-triggering candy, set up a trading circle with his friends, siblings or yourself so he can swap the treats for safer ones. It’s a good way to keep him safe and prevent him from feeling like his allergy is causing him to miss out.
- Engage the neighbors. If your child has severe food allergies, you may feel safer going to a few neighboring houses beforehand with allergy-safe treats the homeowner can give to your child when she trick-or-treats at their door. Let the neighbors know in advance what your child will be dressed as to avoid confusion, and allow them to distribute the allergy-safe treats discreetly.
- Help plan school functions. Being left out of a public activity because of a food allergy can be very hard on children. By volunteering to help with a school Halloween party you can ensure that there are allergen-free treats available and that it’s a safe environment for your child.
- Celebrate the spirit of the season. Candy is great, but there are lots of Halloween activities that are fun and have nothing to do with food. Carving pumpkins, decorating the house or creating the perfect costume are all great ways to celebrate Halloween. Emphasize the spirit of the season over the sweets to make sure your child with food allergies can enjoy the holiday as much as everyone else.
With the right planning, you can avert both allergic reactions and hurt feelings this Halloween—making sure the night is frightfully fun for everybody.
For more on this topic, watch this interview with Andrew MacGinnitie, MD, PhD, associate clinical director of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Each year, many Children’s Hospital Boston patients dress up and go trick-or-treating throughout the hospital. The children love to decorate their bags and the inpatient floors in spooky themes. The staff get in on the fun too. Here are some of today’s costumed kids.
Do you have Halloween photos of your children you’d like to share? Email them to us—and tell us their names—at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll include them in our gallery.