What Moms Without Kids With Allergies Should Know About Kids With Allergies



I could start this with: Dear Sister, Dear friend, Dear Me-four-years-ago,

I know what’s it like to be on both sides of the food allergy coin. I lived as a mom oblivious to other children with allergies. I had three glorious years of motherhood without a fear of food. My son could and would eat just about anything! Then I was thrust into the world of food allergies almost overnight. I’ve heard it compared to letting your child play near the edge of a canyon – constantly anxious that she might fall off the edge. You never know when danger will catch you off guard. It’s scary. Manageable, but scary.

I wish I had known better about how to deal with food when I was around friends and family with food allergies. I didn’t know I was being careless. But, honestly, I had no idea how to be better about it. So, I thought I’d offer some advice. Here are a few practical ways you can serve and love moms and their food allergy kids:

1. If you aren’t sure about a child’s allergies and you’re planning a party or playdate, just ask. (They’ll probably beat you to it anyway, but it’s nice to know you care.)

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2. Don’t be offended if I’m at your house and I ask to check labels. Even if you think it’s safe, it helps me be completely sure! It’s not that I don’t trust you. Well, yeah, it is. But I barely even trust myself when it comes to my child’s safety.

3. If I ask your child to wash his hands or face, it’s not because I think your kid is dirty. I’m worried about what they just ate and if it will end up on my child. I probably have a pack of wipes available if you need one!

4. Don’t think I’m a creeper if I follow your child around picking up their crumbs.

5. Don’t assume I think you’re a bad parent if I ask you to have your child eat at the table and not in my playroom. I don’t care what your kid does at home, but I need to protect my daughter’s space.

6. If you’re serving snacks, keep the bags and put each item in its own bowl. Cross-contamination can make even the most basic snack unsafe. This is HUGE and it’s so EASY.

7. Don’t be offended if I show up with snacks for my own kid. And don’t feel like you have to always provide safe things, although the gesture is appreciated.

8. Sometimes I pick up kids’ cups and put them up high to protect my child. Teaching my child to be careful takes time and spills happen.

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9. Don’t feel bad if my child has a reaction at your house. It happens more often than you think and I come prepared. It’s not your fault. But the follow up calls later are a sweet gesture to remind me that you care.

10. I’m more comfortable having play dates at my house or outside, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like your home. Bonus: this gets you out of clean up duty, too.

11. If you see my kid with food or drink that you aren’t sure is hers, feel free to take it and ask me. I’m happy when I see others protecting her, even if it was a safe food.

12. If I hurl myself across a room yelling “No!” please don’t assume I’m a crazy mom. Remember, my child’s safety is my first priority.

13. When planning events that involve food, please call me ahead of time so I can help keep it safe and still be able to attend. I feel bad for my daughter when everyone else gets cupcakes and cookies and I only brought her fruit.

14. Impromptu lunch and dinners out are almost impossible. If you want to invite us, lets make it a plan before we head out.

15. You can (almost) always be safe with fresh fruit.

16. If you send in treats to school for holidays, ask the teacher if there are any allergies. I throw out more than half of the things she brings home from friends. It means a lot when there are a few things she can enjoy.

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17. If your child makes friends with a child with food allergies at school, try to send in snacks and lunch items that are safe so they can always sit together.

18. If you spend a lot of time with a kid with food allergies, ask about their allergy action plan and how to use an epinephrine injector. You never know if you might have to use one someday.

Thanks for helping protect other kids. It means the world to allergy moms and their children.

*My child has milk, egg, and peanut allergies. This is my perspective only! Other moms might have stronger opinions on what they will allow near their child so always check with each mom individually.

Related: The time I almost killed my child


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  1. 2

    mamabears says

    Great list! I have to say I’m very encouraged by my non-food allergy parent friends who are considerate of my son before a party/playdate. They often ask if they can have something or do something different for him. That cliff is steep though, isn’t it?

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  2. 3

    Liza says

    That was…awesome. You wrote that so well. Not in the least was
    that post judgmental, pushy or hyper. You gave excellent advice! I
    don’t have kids with allergies, but I always try to be vigilant of kids
    who might. Your post taught me a few extra things to be aware of,

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  3. 7


    Love this list- we’re not an allergy family but have a few kids we love with allergies and are very aware. One of the moms is amazing and doesn’t ever want people to feel like they have to go out of their way, but as people that love their kids and want them safe, we try to do these things. I’d rather take extra precautions than put a child in danger if I can help it.

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  4. 9

    kelly says

    Having been a restaurant cook of most of my adulthood. I am flabbergasted at the parents that trust their child’s life to a random grill cook.. every time I got a “see server” and was informed of a nut allergy at a table I panicked .. we did not have a nut free environment.. and the fact you just ordered pancakes for the little dear even after being told that would be cooked on the same grill that I had been making pancakes with nuts in them all day..makes me seriously question your understanding of the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen ..and your understanding of they allergy . Don’t get me wrong we took every precaution possible..clean utensils cooking on foil.. ( ever try cooking pancakes on foil) :( still it’s not a risk I would be willing to take if it was my child.

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    • 10

      Heather says

      I understand what you mean. But as a mother of a child with allergies you are tired of living in the bubble of never giving your child anything. Anything can cause an out break, even the stuff that says it is safe.

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    • 11

      tara says

      I’ve worked in hospitality as a waitress for 10 years and tbh, I expect that it is a tables duty to inform me of the allergy and the chefs duty to inform whether they are prepared to cook it or not. No allergic diner should expect the kitchen to be able to cater every dish, and every chef should be able to say “no”. The line to use as a waitress is “I’m sorry, but that is not possible with the constraints of our kitchen”.
      Expecting perfect flexibility for an allergic is unreasonable, sure – but for a chef to expect allergics to know what the particular workings of your kitchen involve is also unreasonable. Kitchens vary in their setup and systems; even how busy the service is can make a difference, so as the chef – it’s your call, and your waitstaff should be educated as such. If faced with an extra stroppy diner, the next line is “we are not willing to take that risk”. No parent should balls you back on that one.

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  5. 12

    Heather Holter says

    Very scary to have all those allergies. I don’t know how you do it since nearly everything has at least one of those ingredients, and listed under other names you may not recognize. Good luck and god bless mamas like you! It’s hard work!

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  6. 14

    Peasforus says

    Also add: do not test my child if she really has those allergies. When I was a kid I was a guinea pig to some relatives and friends who thought my egg allergy was a psychological issue. What those mean people never knew was that severe allergy would cause Anaphylaxis. I have had severe episodes because of their ignorance .
    Even after asking if they had used eggs in the dish they would say no and later when I would get hives and vomit they would say ‘Oh, I added egg white, she can’t have that, too’ or ‘I added just one egg, it’s a psychological issue’. My lovely mother never spared them for doing that.
    When I was pregnant with my dd, I was always asked if the child would get my egg allergy ‘disease’. Luckily she is free from food allergies.

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    • 15

      anon says

      i had an uncle who insisted that my milk and fish issues were all in my head. while at a restaurant once, and lucky my mother was there, he tried his best to force me to order and eat fish and insisted i have milk instead of sweet tea. we never went out to supper with that aunt and her husband again, and my mother was cautious about leaving me alone with either of them.

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    • 16

      Heather says

      The people who think they can feed my child piss me off. I have to watch her suffer her all night long because someone feed her something. I tell people she is allergic to everything, eggs, milk, soy, nuts. Yet they still feed her.

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      • 17

        M says

        Agreed! My daughter is almost 2. I have so many relatives think that I’m just a “psycho” parent and don’t want to allow my child to eat “fun” food. She’s been tested for only about 10 different foods and is highly allergic to several of them. She’s allergic to dairy, soy, egg, peanut, fish, tree nuts, coconut, shellfish, and a few others…and yet people think it’s ok to shove a cupcake in her mouth or cheesy poofs down her throat (yup, bad reactions both times…and the cupcake thing happened a few times at different family parties). And then it’s “well what did you do wrong during your pregnancy that caused all of these allergies?” It’s beyond frustrating!

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