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Monday, March 23, 2015

Easter with Food Allergies (Part 1) ~ Safety at Family Gatherings

Easter with Food Allergies (Part 2) ~ Safe Treats and Hunts
Easter with Food Allergies (Part 3) ~ Safe Easter Meal

I wrote this post when Miles was two-years-old.  We do some things differently now that he's 9, but these are still good tips for parents of mostly any food allergy age.    

Easter is upon us, and we all want our children to have a fun day. Although planning a holiday around milk allergies can be stressful, it can still be a special celebration if we plan ahead.  Here are some things we do to keep our holidays as safe as possible:

  • If you have a choice, plan to attend the smaller gatherings. The less people, the less chance that someone will feed or offer your child something that's not safe.
  • Plan to celebrate the holiday with people who understand the seriousness of food allergies.
  • Communicate with the hosts and attendees ahead of time to menu plan. If they have been accustomed to your food allergies for some time, they may be willing to make or buy safe foods and you may be comfortable letting your child eat them.
  • Bring a few safe dishes that everyone can enjoy. Dish out your child's portions first and get enough for leftovers. Once it's open to everyone, you don't want to dish out anymore for your child. It may become contaminated with a milky utensil or have unsafe food dropped in it by the time you go back.
  • Pack a safe meal for your child even if you think the family meal will be safe. Something could always happen to mess up the safe family meal so make sure you have back-up.
  • If there are people at your gathering who do not know about your food allergies, do not hesitate to make an announcement (perhaps before the family prayer) that there is a child with food allergies who should not be fed ANYTHING by anybody. If you're still nervous, don't hesitate to put a sticker on them that says, "Do not feed me. I have food allergies."
  • Don't hesitate to pass on someone else's dish even if they say it's milk-free. If you aren't comfortable trying it, just say you brought your child's own food to be safe. Most everyone will understand your caution. And if they don't, it's better to offend someone than to have your child in the ER on the holiday.
  • Keep the dairy foods out of reach of your allergy child as much as possible.
  • Have a special area for the dairy-free foods you don't want anyone to get into.  Label the containers as dairy-free & off-limits.  And even hide them if needed.  
  • Don't hesitate to suggest that everyone wash hands after the meal.  If your allergic child is a baby, people are going to want to hold him or her.  If your child is a toddler or older, he or she will be sharing toys, electronics, etc. with other kids.  
  • If your child is younger, keep him or her in your site at all times. Jeff and I take turns watching Miles. Sometimes Grandma takes a turn too. You never know when those little hands will grab for something.  Or when someone may offer them food.  This means meal time AND play time.  
  • If your child takes daily medication for allergies like Clariton or Zyrtec, make sure they take their dose for the day before going on your outing.
  • Don't forget to pack your EpiPen and Benedryl and medicine dropper/cup!

Do you have any other safety tips for celebrating holidays in a large group?
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