It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week and we thought it would be great to look at some Mum’s experience in dealing with allergies with their children.
According to Food Allergy Research & Education, one in 13 children under the age of 18 have a food allergy, and of those kids, about 40% have allergies to more than one food.
Let’s talk about food allergies
When children have a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a certain food as though it is toxic. As a result, the body’s immune system creates antibodies to fight the food allergen. Even tiny amounts of the food kids are allergic to can cause an allergic reaction. 8 common food allergies in kids include milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish.
What Allergy Mums want you to know
We asked Mums who have a child with food allergies what they would like other Mums to know who do not have a child with food allergies.
- Please ask me first before giving them something. So many people have said ‘oh I didn’t think it would have that in it, or hmm..it shouldn’t have any in it’. Near enough is not good enough. Would rather be asked a million times a day.
- Sometimes, a little of a food does a lot of damage. The amount of times I heard, ‘oh it’s just a little bit, it won’t hurt’. My child had one bite of a wrap that had grated cheese in it & spent the next 24 hours vomiting. Even a tiny amount matters.
- Please wash your hands and your child’s hands after eating (especially if playing in public spaces or with a friend with allergies). Someone even touching my child after they ate something with egg/milk in it had him have a reaction.
- If you are spending time around a child that has allergies, I would suggest learning how to administer an epipen
- Be honest if you’ve had a certain allergen
- Please don’t suggest a little bit will build their immune system
- I’m not a clingy mum, I’m just trying to keep my son safe
- Please don’t feed my kid. With a kid that has multiple allergies, basically anything in a packet or homemade is not safe.
- Never feed another child something without permission.
- Parties are hard, people assume I’m being a helicopter parent
- Tell the teacher if you plan on bringing in a snack ahead of time so she/he can pass it onto me so I can be prepared.
- When you are thinking about your next school event or birthday celebration at school, remember that kids with food allergies cant participate or buy food products that will make them sick. We need to do what we can so that the food allergic child does not feel left out by her school community.
Advice for other Allergy Mums
- Teach your child early to advocate for themselves. At 2 my son would ask ‘got eggs in it?’
- Don’t be afraid to ask a million times if a certain food/package is safe
- There is never a stupid question, don’t be afraid to ask. Some people might think it sounds stupid, but others know the real struggle with having a child with allergies.
- Teach your child right from the start to question the food he/she is offered or given. Even if the food looks like something he/she has had before, teach the child to still ask again about the food before consuming. I can not always be there so think its best to bring him up aware of his allergies.
- Always keep snacks in car and bag
- Once the shock wears off when you initially find out that your child has allergies, it will become a new form of normal
- Don’t think twice about telling anyone that your child has food allergies.
Take a minute to talk to food allergy parents as they will have lots of ideas to keep it safe and inclusive for all of our kids.