Penny is almost 3yrs old. Now she has friends, and of course this means that we get to participate in playdates. Exciting, huh? Well, although it’s great that my lil’ one is socializing more, for us moms of children with food allergies, the whole thing can turn out to be a little bit frightening.
When the word playdate comes up, I can’t help but get a little anxious. Have the children that are going to be present eaten or touched anything with [insert allergen]? If the playdate is at someone else’s house, what are the snacks that are going to be offered? What if Penny get’s a hold of a toy that is contaminated with [insert allergens]? These are some of the questions that run through my mind. So, what do I do?
- I try to host the playdate. I ask the people coming over to refrain from bringing anything with allergens, in our case, milk-based products, peanuts & tree nuts. I’ve learned to ask my guests to wash their hands right when they get to our home- that way if they have allergens in their hands, I make sure they wash them off.
- I alert the people that are going to be around Penny about her food allergies. Sometimes I might get carried away talking about this topic, but you need to understand that it is only because I want to keep my child safe and it simply takes a small amount of the allergen for my child to get an allergic reaction, and potentially an anaphylactic shock.
- If hosting the playdate isn’t a possibility. I bring all of Penny’s snacks. Usually, I bring more than what she eats so we can share them. Usually, on the go, I carry Enjoy Life products, which are safe for almost everybody, since they are free of the top 8 allergens. Also, this is the reason we refuse to accept homemade treats, we don’t know what ingredients are in them.
- I carry wipes everywhere. Wipes have been proven to be a good way to eliminate allergens from surfaces, so if we are going to eat I wipe down Penny’s area. Don’t feel offended if I go to your house and wipe down tables or chairs- I’m not insinuating that your house isn’t clean, I’m just keeping my child safe by making sure there are no allergens in the surfaces she will be in contact with.
- Last but not least, I carry her medication (a bottle of Benadryl and 2 EpiPens) and emergency plan everywhere. Sometimes, even when you take precautions, reactions occur.
I was once told that I was making myself more nervous by reading so much about food allergies and posting so much information on social media. My intention is the exact opposite, I am trying to learn and inform myself on the subject in order to be able to create awareness and advocate for my child and for other people with food allergies. Food allergies are real!