Whether your child has been diagnosed with food allergies or if they are friends with a child who has, there are several things you need to understand in order to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy.
Childhood food allergies vary in severity, with anaphylactic reactions, which can be fatal, being the most serious. Even if your child doesn’t have a fatal allergy, it’s important that you still treat this allergy seriously, as it’s possible for reactions to worsen over time.
If you are new to the world of childhood food allergies, here are three important things you need to know now.
- Cross-Contamination is Real. Especially when you are dealing with more severe allergies, it’s important to consider the dangers of cross-contamination. For example, if you are having a group of children over for lunch and are preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it’s not enough to simply not feed the child who has an allergy peanut butter. From the surfaces in your kitchen to the peanut butter that can get on other children’s hands, the entire situation can be risky. The safest bet? Avoid using any ingredient that a child is allergic to when that child is in your home.
- Read Ingredients Carefully. Food allergens show up in some surprising places, which makes it important to read and re-read every ingredient label before serving it to a child. Once your child is big enough, one of the best things you can do is to teach them how to read these labels for themselves so that they can double and triple check if a food is safe when they are at school or a friend’s house.
- Do Your Research. Because childhood food allergies can be so severe, it’s important to treat them very seriously. If your child has an allergy, preparing them before going to a restaurant, for example, by calling ahead and checking ingredient lists can help them stay safe without feeling awkward. If your child has friends with allergies, learn who is allergic to what so that you can help keep them safe when you are with them.
While some children will outgrow their childhood food allergies, most will deal with them for their entire lives. Helping to make sure they learn how to stay safe as a child will ensure they stay safe and healthy throughout their lives.