When you have a child with food allergies like I do, keeping them safe during holiday parties and family get-togethers can be challenging.
Between new types of foods, homemade dishes with secret ingredients and all those Christmas cookies, you’ll be laser-focused on what your kid can eat and what he must avoid.
Although managing your child’s food allergies can definitely be nerve-wracking, with some planning and a few simple strategies you can enjoy the holidays and keep your kid safe.
Here are 6 tips that will help.
1. Talk to the host
If you’ll be attending an event at someone else’s home, call the host and let them know about your child’s food allergies and what can happen if they accidentally ingest an allergen.
When you have a child with food allergies, the reality is that you are his biggest advocate.
Unless the host of the party has a child with food allergies, it’s unlikely that they’ll read food labels or even know how to read a label.
What’s more, most people don’t understand how serious an accidental exposure can be and may say a meal is safe, when it really isn’t.
While some hosts may go out of their way to check labels and read every ingredient they used, it’s always a good idea to ask what foods will be served so you’ll know what your kid will have to avoid.
2. Bring a safe dish and dessert
One of the best ways to keep your kids safe and make sure they’ll have something to eat is to bring a safe dish and a dessert that they and everyone else can enjoy, including guests who may have other dietary restrictions.
3. Supervise your kids
It goes without saying that if your kid is young, you must ask about the ingredients in every dish and choose foods carefully.
But since family and friends may give your kid something to eat without asking, it’s important to also watch your kids throughout the event too.
4. Talk with your kids
When kids are old enough to understand what it means to have food allergies, it’s important to talk to them about how to stay safe but without scaring them.
Make sure they know not to eat a food without asking you first and not to share foods with other kids who may also have food allergies.
5. Ask guests to bring a non-food item
When my daughter was 3-years-old, we attended a party at a neighbor’s house and while we were chatting, she tasted a dip that had nuts in it. Luckily, she only had hives and we gave her a dose of Benadryl, but it was a big wake up call to watch her more carefully.
If you’ll be hosting and grandma insists on bringing her famous cookies, there may not be much you can do. But if guests ask what they can bring, have a list of alternatives like a bottle of wine, another beverage, or festive napkins.
6. Plan non-food traditions
During the holidays, food is a big part of the festivities. But for kids with food allergies, they may feel left out if they can’t enjoy some of the food.
To take some of the focus off food, plan other activities or start new holiday traditions which will create magical memories your kids will remember for years to come.