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Six Tips For Keeping Kids With Food Allergies Safe

  
  
  

Here are six tips for keeping kids with food allergies safe.

Living with food allergies is not easy for adults. It’s even tougher when your child has food allergies because kids have a harder time identifying safe and unsafe foods and avoiding cross-contaminated surfaces. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help safeguard your child and avoid allergic reactions.

1. Talk about it. Talk to your child about his or her allergy regularly, and teach him/her that it is always ok to ask questions and self advocate. For example, have your child practice saying things like, “Does this have peanuts in it? I am allergic to peanuts.” Let your child see and hear you telling other adults about his allergies so s/he can become a better advocate. Say things like, “Thank you for having us to Bobby’s birthday party! We brought those brownies I told you about, so Tyler can have something wheat-free and still celebrate with everyone.”

2. Pack your food. Get your child in the habit of packing food and always having “safe snacks” on hand plus a stash in your car. Pack some large snack bags with non-perishable “safe snacks” and ask people to keep them handy in the locations your child goes most often (friends’, grandparents’, and babysitters’ houses, for example.) 

3. Call manufacturers. When a product doesn’t include your child’s allergen, but you’re not sure if the manufacturing plant makes anything that does have that allergen in it, call or email the manufacturer to find out.

4. Ask at restaurants. Many people often ask, “Is there pepper in that dish?” and wait staff answer to the best of their knowledge. If you are asking because of a serious allergy, be clear: “My child is seriously allergic to wheat. Could you please let the chef know so that he or she can avoid any cross-contamination in the food preparation area?”

5. Always have your child wear a medical ID. Medical ID jewelry helps protect your child when you are not around. Kids sometimes forget what they’re allergic to, and having their allergies listed on their medical IDs helps with that. Additionally, if your child has a reaction when you are not present, a medical ID bracelet will let people know what to do (call 911, use an Epipen) and how to reach you.

6. Have a plan. At home, have a family plan of how to respond in the event of a serious allergic reaction. Teach all household members where the Benadryl is and how much to give, or teach them all how to administer an EpiPen shot if your child carries one. Always keep the EpiPen or other medications in the same place, clearly labeled. At school, consider asking for a 504 plan if your child’s allergies require one. Otherwise, meet with the school nurse, administrator, and your child’s teacher(s) to ensure that everyone knows what to do and how to do it in the event of a serious allergic event. 

What tips do you have for keeping kids with food allergies safe? Please share in the comments below!


Comments

My daughter is 9 years old and in the third grade this year. She has a fairly large list of food allergies: tomatoes, pineapples, all pitted fruits, all berries, rice, pepperoni, salami, and pastrami. These are the items that we know of. She has an EpiPen. I am allergic to wasps as well and she has never been stung so we are unsure of whether she will have a reaction to that as well if she is ever stung.  
 
She wears one of the Lauren’s Hope waterproof medical alert bracelets daily. We have spent several years teaching her to ask about what is in different foods. For example, if she sees something red in a dish she will ask if there are tomatoes in that (or if it is a fruit dish she would ask about cherries and strawberries). If someone offers her a fruit juice, she will ask if what kind of fruit juice is in it – to make sure it doesn’t have any of the fruit juices she cannot have. We have discussed with her the types of “feelings” her body might have if she were having a reaction at school – including getting a rash (hives), feeling really itchy, feeling like her tongue is getting too big for her mouth, etc. and that she needs to go to the nurse or to her teacher if she feels that way. Both her teacher and the school nurse are well aware of her allergies and the types of reactions that she has had in the past. She packs a lunch from home because it is easier to monitor what foods she is taking to school to eat that way. They have an EpiPen at school but the requirement is that it has to be in the nurse’s office.  
 
At home we have started to have her carry one with her when we go out and have taught her how to give it to herself, her older brother knows how to give her the injection if needed, my husband and I both know how as well. Thankfully, we have never had to use the EpiPen, but we feel a little more at ease knowing that it is available should something happen. We also feel a bit more comfortable knowing that she has her bracelet on when we are not there.  
Posted @ Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:38 AM by Rene Kiser
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