By Guest Blogger Dolores “Dolly” Santos of DollyMath.com
Being a parent is challenging enough. You are constantly dealing with schedules, babysitters, and mealtimes. When you add a dangerous food allergy into the equation, suddenly you find that even the tasks that should be simple, like dropping your child off at daycare, have become potentially dangerous. Here are some tips to help manage the care of someone with food allergies.
Ask for Help
It is important to make sure that you distribute information about allergens to anyone and everyone that is involved in the caretaking of your child. This includes: babysitters, grandparents, other relatives, day care employees, teachers, and other individuals that might at some point be responsible for giving your child even a small snack. Recruit your spouse or partner to also be as educated as possible so they can disperse important information when handing off your child to someone else for care. Do not try to take on all of the responsibility by yourself. Imagine if something unforeseen happened, and you needed someone else to step in unexpectedly. It is important to make sure that as many people close to you as possible have the information needed to keep your child healthy.
Plan Ahead for Playdates
You will want your son or daughter to have as normal a childhood as possible. This means playdates and birthday parties, which can also mean added stress. It is important to call ahead several days before the event and talk to the host to make sure there will be food options that your child can eat. You can alleviate some of the burden by offering to bring a dish or snack that is allergen-free, but can be shared with the rest of the children attending. As your child gets older, they will be able to take on some of the responsibility for monitoring their own diet. Go over lists of forbidden foods with them as well as items that could possibly contain allergens that might not be considered. Encourage them to always ask questions and decline graciously if they are offered anything that has the potential to cause a reaction.
When dining out, try to choose restaurants that offer simple, clean menus prepared from scratch. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients as well as the preparation techniques that might cause cross-contact. It is best to choose dining times that are not busy so servers have time to answer your questions and get clarifications from the chefs when necessary. Avoid buffets, as these tend to have environments where many different foods are close together and cross-contact is possible. If you have found a restaurant chain that offers safe menu items, make it your go-to while traveling, as these chains usually prepare things in the same way with the same ingredients.
Learn About Resources
You can battle the feelings of isolation by seeking out other parents of children with food allergies. Seek out websites that have forums and message boards where families share information with one another. There are support groups and foundations that address specific food allergies where you can find more information about resources you may not have considered. There are even service dogs available that can be trained to detect allergens that your child may be exposed to. Rover has a great article about this that’s worth checking out.
When we are engrossed in the care of our children, it is sometimes easy to forget that conditions such as FPIES, and other specific allergies are not necessarily well-known. Social events with your children are great opportunities to help others learn about dietary dangers, and spreading awareness can help other parents that are experiencing the same struggles that you are.
For more ideas and information from Dolores “Dolly” Santos, visit DollyMath.com