Andrew was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at the age of 1. Life since then has been anything but normal for our family. At the grocery store we have to look at each and every label to make sure there are no nuts or manufactured in a plant with nuts.
When we want to go out to eat, sometimes we grab McDonalds and bring it in when we aren’t too sure, other times we have to call the manager to our table and assure that Andrew’s food will be “safe”.
Play Dates at other people’s houses? I can’t stand the idea.. How in the world am I going to prepare Andrew for life away from mom and dad, but stay safe when exposed to foods?!
You see I’m a stay at home mom to Andrew and his little sister, here he is safe with his food that I prepared, his snacks that I picked myself from the store and his life saving medicines in case he has a reaction.
When someone wants Andrew to come stay at their house for a play date I immediately become tense and think about things like, How do I know they won’t feed him a snack with nuts? How do I know he will be safe? What if he has a reaction? Will that parent feel comfortable enough to give Andrew an epi pen to save his life?
This November Andrew is turning 4 and next year he will begin Pre School. I understand that Andrew is not the only child with food allergies and the teachers are very familiar with how to deal with such situations. For this momma it is a dreaded nightmare that I wish didn’t have to come…
So this year my husband and I are working hard with Andrew to teach him more about his peanut allergy and here are some of the things I found to try:
– Tell your child about their allergy using terms that they will understand. When we talk to Andrew we tell him “You have a food allergy, if you eat peanuts they will make you sick and then you will have to go to the doctor”
– Provide your child with a Medic Alert bracelet, teach them what it says so they understand why they are wearing it.
– Teach your child about the names of foods he can not eat, show pictures or take trips to the grocery store and show them what they can and can not eat
– Teach your child to say No to Snacks, provide them with scenarios and teach them to say things like “Did my mommy check the ingredients?” Or “No thank you, I have a peanut allergy”
– Find some food allergy books and read them together, while looking around I did find several children based books.. this age is great for this tip as books are a big enjoyment
– Keep things simple and try not to create any unnecessary anxiety… this will be hard.
These are some of the basics we are going to start with, up to this point Andrew knows peanuts will make him feel icky and he knows some things are bad, such as Reese’s commercial’s.. he will repeat “Mommy those are peanut butter and make me sick and have to go to the doctor” At the same time he still has a lot to learn.. just today I caught him picking food up off the floor and eating it *sigh*
How are you planning to prepare your children for the real world
while dealing with their food allergies?