For young children with food allergies, everyday life can sometimes be difficult to navigate. After all, kids rely on the provision and protection of adults when it comes to their meals—so if the grownups in their life aren’t prepared to deal with a food allergy, it can be a bad situation for everyone involved.
Approximately one in every 25 American children suffers from a food allergy, so chances are you know a child who is allergic. Whether you have a child with allergies at home, or you’re dealing with allergic friends or classmates, we wanted to offer a few tips for coping with food allergies in children.
Educate Yourself and Your Little One(s)
When children have allergies, you need to be able to recognize the symptoms of a reaction—and so do they. Quick thinking and fast action are key if a child is having an attack, so recognizing the symptoms is just as important as knowing what do do when it occurs. It’s also crucial that children learn how to quickly and clearly communicate when they’re having a reaction, so they can get the help they need.
Keep Their Medicine Handy
In case of a reaction, kids should always have ready access to their allergy prescriptions. Parents should provide schools and day cares with no less than two up-to-date EpiPens® or Auvi-Q® devices, while making sure the medicine will be unlocked and easily accessible to all education personnel during and after school hours. Any time a child spends the night away from home, parents should take steps to ensure their child and any chaperones have access to these crucial devices.
It’s More Than Just “Don’t Eat That.”
For the most part, if children know they’re allergic, you won’t catch them stuffing their face with that particular food—but that’s not the only way for a reaction to occur. As early as possible, children should understand how to read food labels for any allergenic ingredients. You should also stress the importance of regular hand washing, particularly before and after eating.
Decide What’s Right For Your Family
Is this a comprehensive guide to managing food allergies in children? Absolutely not. As always, we encourage you to do more research for yourself and decide what precautions are necessary for your family. For example: some people suggest a wholesale ban of “problem foods” in your house, whereas others would rather take extra precautions to protect an allergic child without denying the whole family certain foods. Some parents rely on educating their child about what foods to avoid at school, while others prefer to pack their child’s lunch and implement a strict, across-the-board “No Food Sharing” rule.
There’s no getting around it: life is different for children with food allergies. But it’s up to the adults in their life to decide how to best deal with these issues. We’re only scratching the surface here, so always be sure and do your own research too. And please feel free to share your own tips with us for dealing with children and food allergies!