Food allergies are the new reality in our country. It is estimated that 1 in 13 children have some sort of food related allergy. A 2013 study published by the Center for Disease Control suggested that the prevalence of food allergies were greatly increased between 1997 an 2011. It is a hot topic with parents and chances are that you know a child with a significant food allergy, even if it's not your own.
Adults are well equipped to understand and handle food allergies, but what about the children that are affected, as well as the friends around them? In order to keep your child safe, you should start early. Here are a few ideas from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education):
Keep it Simple: There are some foods that are safe and some that are unsafe. Make a list of of safe foods with pictures and of unsafe foods with pictures. Point out the safe and unsafe foods at the grocery store, at birthday parties, play dates, etc. so that your child is prepared. Keep the dialog going.
Teach your child to only eat foods that you or another trusted adult prepared. Make a list ( again, you could provide pictures) of all the adults that are allowed to give your child food. Revisit the list often. Be sure to let your child know that adults who aren't on the list are very trustworthy, they just may not know about the safe and unsafe foods.
Let your child know that you are there and ready should he ingest something that is on the unsafe list. You have a plan! Perhaps it is Benadryl, perhaps it is using the Epi-pen. Regardless, let your child know about the plan in detail. This will help with anxiety should an accident happen.
Lastly, recognize that your child is young and does not have the full ability to monitor his own behavior to the fullest. Even if you are super anxious, try not to put that on your child. Let him attend birthday parties ( bring his own treat for him, if needed), let him go play at other children's houses, and allow him the freedom to be a kid. It is extra work but worth it.
Let Them Fly!