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Does Your Child Have Food Allergies? Here’s How to Get Through the Holidays Safely

November 12, 2019 • Our Blog • Uncategorized
Thanksgiving dinner with American-African family at table. The whole family is gathered around the table for eating. The little brother of 5 years old is hungry. Photos are taken with spontaneity and real emotions and Captured the specific decorations, meals and festivities in Quebec such as Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions.

The holiday season is meant to be joyful, but for parents of children with food allergies, it can be an incredibly stressful couple of months. 

For most people, the holiday season is a time of great celebration. It’s hard not to find joy in gathering with loved ones around a feast of homemade food — unless, of course, you’re the parent of a child with food allergies.

As homemade meals become more prevalent around the holidays, it can be difficult for parents to monitor their children’s food for allergens. Whether it’s at a family Thanksgiving celebration or at a potluck at school, food that lacks clear ingredient labels is everywhere you turn as the calendar year winds down. This makes for a hazardous environment for anyone with food allergies, but especially for young children who may not yet fully understand their own dietary restrictions.

Fortunately, there are several steps parents can take to alleviate these risks around the holiday season and get back to enjoying this festive time of year.

How to Allergy-Proof Your Holidays

Keeping your child safe from food allergens requires clear and proactive communication with your child, their teachers, and the hosts of any gatherings they may attend. The easier you make it for your hosts or your child’s teachers to prepare for your child’s food allergy, the more likely it is they will be able to effectively accommodate your child’s dietary needs. Here are five key tips for allergy-proofing your holidays:

  1. Talk to your hosts well in advance.

Don’t wait until the last minute to let your hosts or your child’s teacher know that your child has a food allergy. As soon as you or your child is invited to a holiday event, reach out to politely explain your child’s dietary restrictions. Consider letting the host know that you’ll bring your own food. Though many hosts will gladly offer to provide alternative, allergen-free dishes, you should reach out with the intention of informing, not demanding.

  1. Bring safe food for your child to eat.

While your child may be able to eat some of the dishes on offer at a gathering, the best way to ensure your child is both safe and properly fed is to bring your own dish. Again, consider reaching out to hosts in advance so you know what, if anything, you should bring to an event.

  1. Make sure your kids know how to stay safe.

If you’re the parent of a child with food allergies, you’ve probably reminded your child to avoid unfamiliar foods more times than you can count. Nevertheless, in preparation for (and during) the holiday season, be sure to go over these rules even more frequently than you usually do.

  1. Keep your child supervised.

While you should always keep as close an eye on your child as you can, it can’t hurt to enlist other trusted adults to do the same. Consider asking your child’s teacher to keep a close watch during school parties or recruiting your child’s beloved aunt, uncle, or godparent as another set of eyes during Thanksgiving.

  1. Be prepared.

Make a habit of keeping an EpiPen or Benadryl close at hand so you’ll be ready to act if your child begins exhibiting the symptoms of an allergic reaction. To prepare for a potential reaction at a school event, make sure your child’s teacher has — and knows how to use — an EpiPen.

Talk to a Trusted Pediatrician This Holiday Season

If your child has food allergies, consider reaching out to Kids’ Health. Our experienced pediatricians would be more than happy to talk you through ways to keep your child safe this holiday season.
Contact us today to learn more.