Many children these days suffer from food allergies. So while it may require an extra level of alertness as a parent, you can be comforted knowing that you’re not alone and that more and more schools and facilities are very aware of and take good safety precautions pertaining to food allergies.
Allergies can range from causing mild discomfort to being life-threatening, and allergic reactions can worsen with repeated exposure to the allergen. It’s important to always be cautious once you know your child is allergic to something and be mindful of other children’s allergies. Here are some tips that you can follow if your child has food allergies.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Inform everyone who could be caring for your child know about your child’s allergies. Make sure to have it on file with your child’s school, daycare, babysitters and friends hosting parties. If your child is old enough to communicate, he or she can also reiterate those allergies if food is being served when you aren’t around.
- Have an emergency care plan. If your child may require an epinephrine injection, take care that there is always one around, just in case. There needs to be a trained adult to help with this if your child should require an injection. They should also know who to contact after the injection (parents, 911, child’s physician, etc.). The plan and the medicine should be kept in a visible place where it’s easy to find, and everyone should know where it is so that it can be found quickly in case of an emergency.
- Keep allergen-free snacks on hand. It’s hard for kids when everyone else is chowing down and they may not be able to partake. Keep a cache of yummy snacks on hand that your child can enjoy if the offerings aren’t allergen-free. They won’t feel deprived if they have their favorite treats.
- Be persistent. If your child’s health or life could be at risk, don’t feel like you’re being an inconvenience by educating people about your child’s condition. Let people know about allergies as often as it takes to keep your child safe.
- Avoid cross-contamination – Especially if your child has a severe allergy to a food, you want to keep that food entirely out of the kitchen and out of the house, if necessary. Some children react to very small amounts of an allergen, so if you use even the same cookware to prepare a certain food it can be contaminated.
- Focus on the foods your child can have – Instead of the laundry list of what he or she can’t have, focus on all the yummy options that are left. Get creative with all the things your child can eat and make fun snacks and meals to avoid hurt feelings over food allergies.
- Join a support group. Dealing with food allergies can be an isolating experience, for kids and their parents. Sometimes you may not get the support you need in your school system or community. Whether you get in touch with others online or in your community, it helps to be part of a strong network of others living with food allergies. You can learn from their experiences, bounce ideas off one another and be there to vent frustrations. Like living with any other type of medical issue, it helps to talk to others with similar experiences.
- Don’t let fear overtake your life – While food allergies are definitely something to be taken seriously, try not to let yourself be overwhelmed or robbed of the joy of spending time with your child. Take proper precautions, keep a strong network of people in the same allergy boat, but remember to breathe and relax.
When we work together as a community, we can make sure everyone’s children stay healthy and safe. If your child has food allergies, speak to the teacher and staff. We at Sparkles are here to help.