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Why are we painting our pumpkins teal?

October 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Mommy MD Guide Jeannette Gonzalez Simon, DO

teal-pumpkinHalloween is a great time of year.  Kids get so excited about dressing in their costumes, going to a Halloween party, marching in their school Halloween parade and eating Halloween candy.  But what about the kids who can’t eat Halloween candy.  What about them?  Many kids have to abstain from trick-or-treating because they cannot eat the candy safely.  It can be for a variety of reasons.  They may suffer from celiac disease, diabetes, a nut allergy, other food allergies and intolerances or they may need to follow a special diet. Why should these children not be able to enjoy the festivities?

For many years, some parents kept their children from this celebrating this tradition to protect them from a possible anaphylactic reaction or severe allergic reaction.  Then the campaign called #THETEALPUMPKINPROJECT started.

Last year, I saw a few Teal pumpkins painted in my neighborhood.  It piqued everyone’s curiosity. Many just thought “oh how pretty.”  But what is the purpose?  In 2014 the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)  launched a national campaign called the Teal Pumpkin Project™.  The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.  This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option. It keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

It seems a daunting task at first.  Many say, “I don’t want to be the house not giving out candy or chocolate, the kids will hate us and egg our front door!”  In reality there are many really cool fun non-food items that you can hand out.  Kids would love to get glow sticks or glow bracelets.  They will undoubtedly put them on immediately and use them the rest of the night.  Bouncy balls, stickers, tattoos are all great options.  You can find a list of recommended non-gift treats here at FARE’s website.

To let the neighborhood now that you are participating in this event you can paint your pumpkin teal and also put up one of the FAREs downloadable signs on your window or front door. And YES, you can still give out candy if you choose too.

Halloween Safety Tips

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

We want our little ghouls, ghosts, and goblins to have fun, but we also recognize that even simple pleasures like pumpkin carving and dressing up while roaming door-to-door pose some risk. These practical tips make it easy to plan ahead for safety to ensure the fun goes from here to November!

Dressing for Fun and Safety

  • Wigs, masks, large hats, and costumes that cover the face can impair vision. Avoid masks and opt for painting the face instead (look for nontoxic face paints).
  • Light-colored clothing has the best visibility, especially at night, but isn’t always practical. In this case, use strips of reflective tape (front and back) to increase visibility.
  • For extra visibility at night, have your child carry a flashlight or glow sticks (have extra) or wear a glow-in-the-dark necklace.
  • Consider using a brightly colored goodie bag. You can also put reflective tape here, but don’t make this the only thing that is visible as it could be lost.
  • Costumes that are baggy or too long can pose a tripping hazard. So do large shoes and high heels.
  • Any props kids carry, such as magical wands and fantastic swords, should be flexible and blunt. Remember, tripping is not uncommon when kids are hurrying along on sidewalks, so avoid anything that could cause an eye injury.
  • Look for flame retardant costumes. Jack-o-lanterns with candles inside can be an unintentional fire hazard.
  • Be sure your child has a costume that is an appropriate weight. Nothing ruins trick-or-treating fun like being too hot or cold.
  • For younger children, label the inside of the costume with your phone number.

 

Rules of the Road

  •  If your child will be trick or treating without you (generally safe around age 10), plan the route out in advance and set well-recognized limits surrounding busy roads or isolated stretches.
  • Provide clear guidelines on what time your child should return home.
  • Have your child carry a cell phone and be sure your child can call 911 for an emergency.
  • All kids should know their phone number in case of separation.
  • Only trick-or-treat on streets with sidewalks, and avoid busy roads altogether.
  • If possible, only trick-or-treat at homes in your own neighborhood.
  • Teach kids to cross the street only at crosswalks and to never assume that vehicles will stop at intersections or stop signs.
  • Teach kids not to enter a home to collect a treat.
  • Have children trick-or-treat (and stay) in groups. Remember, safety in numbers.
  • Kids (as always) should not talk to strangers, especially masked individuals.
  • If trick-or-treating at night, only trick-or-treat on well lit streets and only approach well lit homes.
  • Be sure your child will not be returning home alone. If this is the case, arrange to pick up at a friends.
  • Teach kids to throw away any candy that looks tampered with (unwrapped or opened, small holes, or a seal that looks glued).
  • Protect little ones from choking hazards like gum, hard candy, and popcorn. Do not allow children to walk with lollipops in their mouths. (As a pediatric ER doc, I have seen the dangers first hand.)

 

Careful Carving

Never allow children to handle a sharp knife. Even kids experienced with using knives will find it difficult to cut through pumpkins, and may exert too much pressure, resulting in injury.

  •  Instead, have them draw the shapes on the pumpkin and let a responsible adult do the carving.
  • If kids want to be more involved, allow them to remove the seeds and guts with a large spoon.
  • Once carved, use flameless (battery operated) candles for safer illumination.
  • You can also have them paint the pumpkins instead of carving them.

And Remember, Keep Kids Safe as They Approach Your Own Home!

  • To avoid trips and slips, remove rakes, hoses, children’s toys, bikes, or anything that might occlude the walkway.
  • Remove any wet, slippery leaves.
  • Make sure your house is well lit.
  • Keep pets way from trick-or-treaters (upstairs or in the back of the house). Even if pets are dressed for Halloween fun, many children may be scared or allergic. Remember, a costume could also frighten a normally friendly pet.
  • And of course, pets around candy is a bad idea. Chocolate can be fatal for doggies, so keep candy out of reach!

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about making sure your kids eat healthy meals at school.


The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.