My son's best friends at pre-school has allergies. And, when he came over for a playdate I was nervous because my kids don't have allergies and I wasn't sure what to do. His mom gave me the low-down - but it got my thinking about how kids today live in a very different world than when we grew up.
My question is what changes have you made in your home and lifestyle to help children with allergies? What tips can you give a mom who may not have kids with allergies but their kids friends do have allergies?
Whenever we are having a get together I ask the parents if there is anything the children can't eat. That way it doesn't have to be an allergy, it also covers preferences as well.
Our son has reflux so acidic food is not the best for him. Most of the time it is OK but he can't eat sugary food and acid food without some simple carbs.
He has a child in his class who is allergic and her mom is great in letting us know what she can and can't have. If she knows in advance she will also bring similar food just for her daughter.
I think the really important thing is that you cannot be the be all for all the kids that visit your house. The parents of that child need to make sure that they are that child's advocate and clear the way for that child to be as similar to children without allergies as possible.
My daughter has a severe dairy and soy allergy. I make sure that I always have food with me that she can eat. When going to someone's house I make sure that I have food that is similar (if possible) in case the food there has some of her triggers (which being dairy or soy it normally does....sigh).
As a hosting mom, you are going to run into some people that expect you to have food that is friendly to their kids allergies (which can be tough....one of my friends kids is allergic to so much that it is easier to go to her house!), so knowing your labels is key.
Talk to the parents and ask any and all questions that you have to be as informed as possible. Let them know what you're willing to do. Will you put the peanut butter away for the day, or avoid serving milk with lunch? Are you willing to learn how to use the Epipen?
As an allergy parent, I realize that not everyone can/will accommodate us. Sometimes we turn down invitations because I'm not comfortable with the response I've received from others. The people I trust the most are the ones who have asked the most questions and shown a real willingness to learn and help keep my child safe.
Communiation is definitely the key, and then follow through with what you've promised.
How awesome are you?! That mom/friend/little one is so blessed to have you in their lives.
Since I've been on CNN and in the NYT talking about this (more can be found at www.allergykids.com), I will share a few quick tips:
Avoid the processed food (if you can't pronounce the ingredient list- and your grandmother didn't have a jar of it in her kitchen - it is best to stear clear, as those allergic proteins are often hidden in the processed food aisle)
Cut the colors: coloring adds loads of chemicals that are hard on the systems of little kids, especially those with ADHD and allergies (which is why they are not included in kids products in the UK, Europe, etc.). So until they are removed from our stuff here, best bet is to try to reduce your kiddos' exposure to them
Focus on fun not food (sure, the food industry has been marketing to us to since we were four years old telling us that food is the be-all-end-all, but you're savvier than that!).
And give yourself a huge hug for doing this, as you are so sweet, thoughtful and compassionate and doing such a remarkable thing for that little one!
My daughter has an allergy w/ milk and apples and you have to delute her juice always.....(white grape is the only thing that I have found that doesn't hurt her tummy) when she goes to my parents house they always make sure that she has what she needs, but when she is at my MIL I have to make sure and take everything over there and she never delutes her juice. She says she forgets or just didn't realize the juice she was giving her had apple in it....or something....there's always an excuess. Then my daughter comes home w/ a tummy ache and can't use the bathroom for days. What do you suggest about something like this situtation? I've tried everything I can think of.
My best advice on caretaking for another child with allergies is to communicate clearly with the parent of that child. Ask questions, let them know if you are uncomfortable or unsure with the instructions and always be have a way to be in contact. Other than that, I think that each allergic child's needs are too individual too generalize on care or too make changes in your home. Although if you know that you have a major allergen in your home i.e. th child has animal allergies and you have a dog, or there will be an ice cream party and he / she is allergic to dairy, PRE-communication is essential...
One of the first thing to do is remove any artificial smells from your home. We live in an age where everything now has to have a smell to it. From scented candles to dryer sheets, to plug-ins. All of these type products add chemicals to our air. So a good place to start helping to prevent allergies is to remove all products that put a scent into the air. Remove all the plug-ins and scented candles. If you need a deoderizer in your bathroom, there is a natural citrius product that uses real orange oil to temporarily eliminate odors. There are also dryer sheets and laundry detergent that is fragrance free. You can usually find a fragrance free substitute for just about anything. This will help to reduce the airborne allergens.
For food allergies, find out if the child has food allergies and then provide alternatives snacks and meals that are free of these foods. Many children are highly sensitive to sugars, snacks, meals and drinks low in sugar will go a long way to having a happy and fun visit minus tantrums, arguments and allergic reactions.
This is a very interesting subject and in my industry quite the topic of conversation. I recently helped a family whose child has a peanut allergy take a vacation on a cruise. We worked diligently with the cruise line to ensure that the child's nutritional needs were met while the family had a great and safe vacation. Those principals could be applied and the tips used for playdates as well where a child has an allergy. As mentioned in the other posts, I think the best tool is communication from everyone.
My daughter & I are both allergic to nuts -- and when I was a kid , there was no epi-pen, 911, or even general awareness.
Every family seems to handle allergies differently -- so you'll need to clarify with the family.
I tend to bring our own snacks to play dates - enough for all the kids - and usually, the Mom will select those same snacks the next time my daughter visits.
I myself have a son with allergies. It is always best to communicate with all of the parents and then take it from there. I always find that alot of finger foods make the best snacks. Apples, bananas, carrots, celery. We buy mostly organic, use organic and the new green version of cleaning products. The best thing we do is plant a garden and that way we know exactly what type of food we are getting and canning is something we do with the kids and it is readily available for any type of party and there is nothing in any of our canned products that will harm my children or any of their friends.
My youngest son has asthma, so when he goes to someone else's house, I make sure to tell them he has asthma and he is able to regulate himself as far as when he does not feel well. Mostly dust will trigger his asthma, so if I see the house is really dusty and not well kept, ( I know that sounds snobby, but I have too!) or if their house is mostly carpeted. The carpets hold alot of mold and dust which will also bother him. I will tell him to play outside. Having a son with asthma and allergies has made me more cognizant to having a child with allergies.
When other children come over, I ask their moms if they have allergies, what kind, foods, etc... I would never want to inadvertantly cause a child to be sick. We also have many pets, so I always ask if they have pet allergies. I think as a mom, the only thing you can do is ask. There is no mom out there that would be upset at a question about their child that would keep them happy and healthy. So my advice is just ask them, they know all about their child and they will tell you. No allergy is the same, as the way it affects a child is different with every child! Now, for a less serious note, my oldest son is allergic to anything but whole milk, every time he drinks low fat, 2%, etc... he throws up. You think because he is now 12 ( he also has allergies for dust, mold he gets allergy shots) he would do it himself, but no, I have to tell his friends moms, "Do not give him any milk while he is here", because I do not do vomit!! Because of both of their allergies, my home has little carpet, I have to vacuum and dust every other day, and they have no stuffed animals in their rooms. Clorox and lysol are my friends! My friends think I am a clean freak, but with the boys it is a necessity.
i have a son with many food and environmental allergies, and when he first went for playdates he only played for a short time and didnt stay to eat. I felt that the other mother had to adjust to the whole allergy thing, and epi pen stuff as well!
so food was out for a while.
as the years went by , we found a trusted mother and son who were happy to help with safe food , and the responsibilty of allergy management. we kept it all simple.
once our son got to 10ish he felt confidant to explain to his friends grandmother on how to make him a safe sandwich. He explained the meaning of cross contamination and how best to avoid it.
my sons allergies include a severe dog allergy and that has added a whole new layer of problems....................