How to Cope When Your Child Has Food Allergies


It doesn’t matter how old your kid is when you find out he has food allergies, the first thing that goes through your head is; he’s never going to have a normal life.

I know it sounds melodramatic – to you maybe, if your kid doesn’t have food allergies. But to me, when my son was nine months old and I was told that seven different foods could kill him, I assure you, I did not think I was being overly dramatic.

When the nurse walked in, all matter-of-fact, and handed me these things I’d heard of but never actually seen; epi-pens, I thought “But they’ve always been for other people’s kids.” The panic set in. He could eat something that could kill him, and it’s my responsibility to save his life? ARE YOU CRAZY?! This is scarier than the day you sent me home with him when he was 48 hours old and said, you can do it!

Here’s a no nonsense list of how to get over the fear…

1. Get a grip. It doesn’t matter what you are feeling on the inside, you need to at least appear to be strong for your child. Shake yourself if you need to, yell at yourself in the mirror, whatever you have to do but get over it.

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2. Realize this is not about you. You are responsible for the life of your child, and if it means no more peanut butter in the house, it doesn’t matter how much you love peanut butter. There is no more peanut butter in the house!

3. This is not about your husband either. You are not alone in insuring your child’s safety. It doesn’t matter if your husband’s favorite cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios, and he PROMISES he’ll be really careful. Tell him to keep it at work and if you find it in the house it’s going in the garbage.

4. Your house needs to be the one place you know your child is safe. Unless you want to label every single food item in the house, you need to be able to tell a babysitter/nanny/grandparent everything in this house is safe for my child to eat. You also need to make it clear that babysitter/nanny/grandparent can not bring any food into the house.

5. Do NOT cheat. You MAY NOT buy food that is processed in a facility that also processes (insert allergen here). The problem with that unclear labelling is not that there might be mild contamination in every M&M. The problem is your child might get the one M&M in one million that has a peanut in it. And while you are cleaning the kitchen thinking nothing of it. Your child is in the other room turning purple and going in to anaphylaxis.

6. Get over your shyness. You have to be OK with being the mom who asks what the ingredients are in the cake/pizza/bread at the birthday party. You have to be OK with saying, I will be bringing my son’s own food/cake/snacks.

7. You are your child’s only advocate with play-dates. You are now going to have to train every mom you come in contact with how to use an epi-pen, and you are going to have to do it with a smile and confidence. Do not ambush a mother with this information when you drop your child off. Talk it over when you make the play-date and make sure she feels like she can handle it. The play-date can always be at your house. NEVER let your child have a play-date without leaving Benadryl and epi-pens with the mother. Explain how to use them and what to look for. Let the mother know what your child can and cannot eat. If necessary bring your own snacks.

8. You are your child’s only advocate in school/classes/camp. You must speak out. You must tell the administration, teachers and nurses all about your child’s food allergies. You must push for an allergen free classroom. It is not acceptable that the allergens be allowed in the classroom no matter the occasion and you have to put your foot down. You must be an active part of your child’s life in school to insure his safety.

9. You are your child’s only advocate with doctors. Do NOT let your pediatrician treat your child’s food allergies. Demand a referral to a pediatric allergist. Do your research, ask around, you are not the only mom of a kid with food allergies. Find the very best allergist and even if he’s a little farther than the so-so one, go those extra miles. If you advocate for your child and do the research, it is possible that you may know more than your pediatrician does about food allergies.  Do not be afraid to change doctors. Your doctor works for you, if you are not happy with the treatment or feedback or availability then find a new doctor!

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10. Use the resources available to you. There are so many resources out there for kids with food allergies now! There is a very large national group, there are smaller local support groups. Use the resources, educate yourself. Get to the point where you feel so confident that you know even if there is a reaction, you can handle it.

You are strong, dammit. You’re a mother for pete’s sake! You can do this. Just remember to leave the drama at home. The chances of your child developing self-esteem issues because of food allergies is relatively high. If you do not do your job, and be the best advocate you can be, the chance that your child will not want to carry epi-pens when he gets older because he is embarrassed is also very high.

Take a deep breath, start now and you will be amazed. In a few years someone will say to you “Isn’t it hard to deal with all of those food allergies?” And you’ll say “Nope, it is what it is, it’s a part of how we live everyday.”

About the writer

Mom, writer, homeschooler, maven of music, self-proclaimed sensory processing disorder expert, photographer, controller of chaos, John Cusack aficionado and all around interesting person who refuses to put herself into any one category ( because that's boring). Jen Kehl shares what is important to her in the blog, My Skewed View.


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Amira 7 months ago

I am so utterly thankful that a mommy blogger I loved and read anyway and know my mom friends love and read anyway also manages food allergies like we do. I feel not quite as alone and all I have to do is share your articles and/or just know my mom community is also reading and I instantly feel better. Thanks for sharing your experience with food allergies Scary Mommy! Please keep it up!!!

Natalie Darcy 7 months ago

My daughter is very adventurous, and she likes to try new things. While I adore her spirit, I wasn’t sure what to do to monitor any allergy symptoms she might be having. Do you have any information on what I specifically need to watch out for? Thank you for the detailed article on what kinds of things I need to think about if I do see symptoms, I will keep your instructive tips in mind!

Jennifer 8 months ago

This was a great article. My two Botha both have peanut and tree nut allergies. My youngest has the highest level and i am fearful of school. They only do peanut free tables where he would be isolated. What do you do as far as school?

Shelby K. 1 year ago

One thing that I have problems with is my husband and mother-in-law downplaying my son’s egg allergy. He is allergic to the whole egg and can’t even ingest it when it’s in baked goods or his eczema flares horribly. But they still think it’s okay to let him have the pre-packaged cookies and brownies at restaurants because “it only has a little bit of egg in it and he’s not gonna die if he eats it.” Well, no, he might not die, but he will be freaking miserable and *I* will be the one to have to take care of the itchies ten minutes after he eats the offensive foods (or in the middle of the night).

He is also allergic to peanuts but thankfully it’s not an airborne allergy, just ingestion or contact through a wound, and he just breaks out in hives. Thank God he is smart enough to know to ask what he can and can’t have, but my spouse and MIL are stupid enough to give him something they know he shouldn’t have… No matter how many times I yell at them, they still don’t get it.

Michelle 1 year ago

My child had his skin testing this week. We have more testing to be done. But, he’s already on allergy shots for grasses,etc. And food? Wheat,egg,milk and grapes! He’s 3. I’m feeling overwhelmed and a bit sad. I know we can do this. But, yea its scary and tough. Last night at Chick fil a he was crying and pointing at the counter because he wanted to go order his ice cream, like every other time we go there. (NoNO, egg and milk). So we went to target and got dairy free treats (expensive!) But I didn’t care. His smile eating his “ice cream” bar on the way home was worth it. I have a close friend whose family has severe allergies. She’s helping me. But #$%^/ !!!! This am I gave him peanut butter on my GF bread( I’m gluten sensitive) After he ate it I read the label. Egg in the bread. I called out to my husband, I think I hate this!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jennifer 1 year ago

Here’s the thing. No, I’ll refrain from calling it “the” thing, but here’s A thing about peanut-free schools. I have an allergy (not nuts) and I totally support nut-free schools in pre-K/K, and elementary school. Little kids don’t know all the dangers and all the contamination issues. Little kids are gross, and it’s totally believable that a classmate would eat messy and get smears of stuff in the surrounding area. Little kids have no sense of personal space and might get overly touchy-feely after eating. Little kids share toys and other materials.
But by the time you hit middle school, it really should be the child’s own responsibility to be safe. Big kids know all those things little kids don’t.

And: nut-free is no protection at all to people who are allergic to other things. Like me. Allergic to fish, but nobody ever asked the cafeteria to take tuna sandwiches off the menu.

On other points: yes, my husband has been fish-free since 2007, my kids have been fish-free all their lives —and though 10 doctors told me it was unlikely, my 4 year old is scratch-test allergic to fish. Go figure.

แว่นตา rayban 2 years ago

I think so too Brenda, but it seems to be a lot slower in less urban areas. Thanks for the advice.

ForexBrokers 2 years ago

Very good information. thank you very much.

Deanne 2 years ago

Hi I also have a son who is 3/12 who has a peanut allergy. I am having a hard time with getting my parents to understand how serious this is. They still have peanut butter in the house. I’ve asked them several times to PLEASE remove it from there house. They said they are careful. I feel like I cannot leave him with them anymore. Am I over reacting.

DeeDee 2 years ago

I found out today my son is allergic to peanut. I already knew my daughter has a severe egg allergy. I needed to hear this. Thank you

Sue 2 years ago

I am a Nana with a grandson whose allergies consist of All nuts, eggs, all dairy and sesame….Up until now, he was able to drink Alpro products, eg milk and yoghurts..but as they are now introducing alpro soya milk with almonds they cannot guarantee that his milk is not free from nut contamination….he can drink nothing else and we are finding that because manufacturers are watching their own backs, nearly every product has the usual ” can’t guarantee a nut free environment” It has become a nightmare for his mum, actually finding things for him as treats! Tesco made dairy free chocolate buttons, but even they are now being labelled with the same! Any ideas would be gratefully received!! Every thing we buy has to be scrutinized thoroughly, so shopping takes more like 3 hours these days!

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patrick 3 years ago

how i can do

Mercy 3 years ago

I’m happy my kids don’t have allergies, but I do need to be aware for other kids’ sake’s. This is a helpful post.

canlı maç izle 3 years ago

Un peu de lecture, en anglais.

Christina 3 years ago

Good article , it is very interesting , thanks so much

Paloe Diet 3 years ago

Have you looked into the Paleo Diet as a option for kids with food allergies? reserach on the subject is growing and the results / reviews from ‘real world’ people are looking to be favourable!

casey marcal 3 years ago

My daughter has a red 40 food dye allergy. She gets hives allover her body if she eats anything red. I know what you mean by shopping is so difficult, so we switched to organic anything. And you right in this article, it is about them no matter what!

Laura 3 years ago

A girl who had been in my Girl Scout troop died at age 12 because her noncustodial parent, her dad, panicked when she had an anaphyllactic attack and, instead of using an epipen or calling 911 or even driving her to the ER, took her back to her mom’s house. Unfortunately, it was too late to save her by that point.

So if you’re the parent of a child who occasionally stays with a former spouse/grandparent/anybody else, make sure they KNOW what will happen if they react badly. I still think of sweet Stacy and how frightening her death must have been for her.

Marta 3 years ago

Great tips. My children don’t have allergies though have friends that do and I never quite realized the extent of how much one has to worry about everything. I will never complain again that I can bring homemade treats to class. You just never can know that the other parent is being careful and cognizant of your child’s allergies.

Julia 3 years ago

Wow…so refreshing to hear another Mum talking my talk on this subject! Our son was diagnosed at 18 months old, after an anaphylactic reaction to a tiny amount of peanut butter. He is now coming up to his 10 birthday & I can genuinely say that be misses out on very little. He knows that our home is a nut free environment & that he needs to take care when he is elsewhere. He knows that I need to talk to parents regarding prospective play dates & we discuss afterwards about risk & if we feel confidence in them. We have had to change schools, whilst both are nut free, the first expected him to be responsible for carrying his epi-pen around the school & at the age of 7 yrs old he couldn’t cope. We saw he slowly wind up with stress over a period of 6 months & when the school refused to change their policy we knew, for his sake it was time to move both kids (there were other factors involved). The school they are now at is nut free & has a full time nurse who is fabulous with allergies! I agree with everything you have said in your blog….even though doing ‘The chat’ with the chef gets tedious sometimes, overall it allows your family to have the confidence to continue to be as normal as is possible!

Luna 3 years ago

My only issue is with pushing for an allergen free school environment. The school simply cannot handle eliminating ALL allergens, so how to pick and choose? Our school is nut free, but my best friend’s son has an anaphylactic reaction to milk. The school can’t eliminate milk, so choosing to eliminate one and not others leads to a false sense of security. It’s a false sense of security any way you look at it.

Amiete’s Tears of Joy 3 years ago

I remember this day. It sure wasn't funny. I also remember our trail of Dr's. At first I thought it wasn't ok to just dump a Dr's cause he didn't get it but quickly realized that not getting it was what makes a great Dr. Thanks for writing this.

Maureen Garland McCann 3 years ago

My youngest was allergic to milk products until he was 4 years old. There are milk products in so many things. Bread hot dogs. chicken nuggets etc, I had to ask at restaurants what was in their food. He is still allergic to bananas. He is older and he now asks is something has it in it.

Katia 3 years ago

Such a helpful and important post, Jen! Everyone should read this, regardless of whether their children have allergies, just to educate themselves on the reality of being around someone with food allergies.

Rachel 3 years ago

How scary, Jen! You seem to have figured out how to handle it with such grace. What a great list and great plan for your family. It’s great that you have shared it with others who are going through the same thing.

Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. 3 years ago

Jen, you have such helpful, down-to-earth, succinct advice for parents. You really know your stuff- thanks for sharing with your usual straight-talking style. You rock.

Sandy Broda 3 years ago

I have a child who was diagnosed with peanut allergies while being treated for severe tree pollen allergies. She'd been eating peanuts with absolutely no symptoms for years, so the diagnosis is almost certainly a false positive (not uncommon with food allergies). Had she been tested before she'd eaten peanuts, though, we would have no way to know this. The good news is that there are new tests, still experimental, that should definitively show whether the peanut allergy will cause a problem or not. The potential to save unnecessary worry is tremendous.

Brenda Dion 3 years ago

As with so much in life, some people just don’t get it. I think for many of us, it’s hard to wrap our head around a “deadly” food that so many of us consume on a daily basis. Most of us did not grow up with knowing a single person with a life threatening allergy. With that said, I think there has been a culture shift in the last few years or so with more awareness. I firmly believe that it soon will be second nature for everyone to ask and consider food allergies.

    Jen 3 years ago

    I think so too Brenda, but it seems to be a lot slower in less urban areas.

Kristi Campbell 3 years ago

Perfect advice, Jen! My son is allergic to nuts and peanuts (and some environmental stuff as well). It’s not a joke and I know what you mean about the husband part. Mine kept buying nuts for a while and said he’d be careful. Then, one day there was a cashew on the floor. I blew a gasket and make him wash his hands and mouth before he touches our kid when he comes home from work b/c I know he’s got his nuts there.

Maggie 3 years ago

his has been my life since Ben was 6 months old….and it’s amazing how much ignorance I have encountered from parents that have kids without allergies. Comments like “I can’t believe my kid can’t bring a certain snack for their birthday to school because of all those f$%#ing kids with allergies” (yes it was said) bothered me, of course, for a long time. Hmmmm….snack vs life – what a choice! But after a while, I’ve learned to speak up and tell them point blank that they would probably feel differently if one day their child went to school and they received a phone call that tells them that they have to rush to the emergency room because their child stopped breathing and is in danger of dying…just because they were exposed to OTHER kid’s food. Yes, in my case, food CAN kill my son. I didn’t ask to have a child with allergies, but he’s here and I’m thankful for him every day. Although it’s not peanut free, I’m so glad that there is so much awareness in the school that he attends and they make accommodations for kids with allergies. Life’s not always fair, but a snack is a small price to pay.

Margaret Antosz Vazquez 3 years ago

This has been my life since Ben was 6 months old….and it's amazing how much ignorance I have encountered from parents that have kids without allergies. Comments like "I can't believe my kid can't bring a certain snack for their birthday to school because of all those f$%#ing kids with allergies" (yes it was said) bothered me, of course, for a long time. Hmmmm….snack vs life – what a choice! But after a while, I've learned to speak up and tell them point blank that they would probably feel differently if one day their child went to school and they received a phone call that tells them that they have to rush to the emergency room because their child stopped breathing and is in danger of dying…just because they were exposed to OTHER kid's food. Yes, in my case, food CAN kill my son. I didn't ask to have a child with allergies, but he's here and I'm thankful for him every day. Although it's not peanut free, I'm so glad that there is so much awareness in the school that he attends and they make accommodations for kids with allergies. Life's not always fair, but a snack is a small price to pay.

    Jen 3 years ago

    It really sucks when people are so inconsiderate! I am so glad you found the right place for your kids!

Twingle Mommy 3 years ago

None of my kids have food allergies but a very good friend’s son is allergic to peanuts. I always made sure he could eat the food and cake I served at our parties since it broke my heart seeing him excluded at other parties. Besides the cake is the best oart if the party to a kid and everyone should get a piece. And I was a frantic cleaner in my kitchen whenever he comes over. I’m so scared something might happen on my watch.

    Jen 3 years ago

    You’re an awesome friend Twingle Mommy!

Kathy Radigan 3 years ago

Great article!! Our oldest is deathly allergic to peanuts, we found this out when he was 15 months old. Not at all fun!! I agree with everything you say. I will add that my child really became his best advocate. At a very early age he knew to ask, and now that he is a teenager I am a lot more comfortable with him being out in the world because he knows how serious his allergy is. (Of course he always has his benadryl and epi)

I have always heard about people being mean to peanut moms and I just have to say we have never, ever had a problem at school or anywhere else. Nobody ever said we were ruining their kids life because they couldn’t eat peanut butter around Tom. We took our role as his protector very seriously and always made sure he had an appropriate snack on hand at school in case there was an unplanned birthday party or celebration. I think the one thing that surprised my husband and I the most was how much the kids in his class were always so protective of him. They read labels and I got more than a few calls from parents who would ask me if Tom could have this or that brand. We also got very friendly with the school nurse!! It is such a serious issue, it’s easy to make fun of the “over protective” peanut parent, and I really didn’t want to become “that mom” but after you have ridden in an ambulance with your kid who can’t breathe you quickly get over it!! Thanks again for a great article!

    Jen 3 years ago

    Thanks Kathy!
    We have had similar experiences with other kids/parents being so thoughtful about his allergies! Even my little niece is always careful to tell people Isaiah can’t have peanuts!

Sue 3 years ago

Amen!! I have four children – two of whom have severe food allergies (between the two, they have 17 different allergies – all different, of course). I wholeheartedly agree with every single point made here! We had to go out of state (3 hours) to find an allergist who would help us. As you said, after eight years, it’s “just how we live.”

    Jen 3 years ago

    Amen Sue!

Tracy@CrazyAsNormal 3 years ago

Thanks for the advice – my kids don’t have allergies, but they have a lot of friends who do. If their parents aren’t around to advocate you can bet your sweet bippy I will be standing in the gap!

Janine Huldie 3 years ago

This is a great post Jen and I don’t have a child with a food allergy per say, but I do completely agree that for most things (doctors and schools included), we are our child’s advocate and it is so important to remember this for whatever issues they may have or need us to convey. Thank you so much for sharing and seriously this is helpful on so many levels to many, if not all parents!

Aurélia Tissier 3 years ago

Un peu de lecture, en anglais.

Dietcokeaddict 3 years ago

Even common food allergies can be disbelieved by people, my son is allergic to soy and dairy and while dr believe this family and friends do not. And if they believe soy and dairy can cause issues they feel that he only gets an upset stomach not breathing issue, wich has happened.

Debbie 3 years ago

These are great points you make. I have one that can’t have many dairy products. She has out grown some of it. She was very small when she was born and that first year they kept telling me that her digestive system was in-mature.
When she was 10 months old she got very sick, went from 18 pounds to 13 pounds in less than 24 hours do to vomiting and diarrhea. Was in the hospital for 10 days.

Know body could tell me what was really wrong with her. Finally I came upon an article about food allergies. Took her to allergy doctor and finally at a year and half got her on the right track.
When she was in school I always left treats with her teach for when there was birthdays etc.
You are right you have to be strong and stick up for your child.
Thanks for sharing.

    Jen 3 years ago

    Thanks Debbie!

Paula Hafner 3 years ago

I just want to add that if your child has a less common allergy, be prepared to be met with disbelief even from doctors. My daughter is highly allergic to red food dyes (she has to carry epi-pens) and has a milder allergy to several of the blue and yellow dyes. It was proven through allergy testing. We had to see a different allergist after she turned 18. This one didn’t believe anyone could be “that allergic to a food dye” until they saw the testing paperwork. Needless to say, we never went to them again.

    Christina 3 years ago

    I had to go to the ER last year for an allergic reaction to Red Dye #3, and my mother told me that when I was a child I had an allergy to Red Dye #1. I followed up with an allergist and he told me they could not test for red dye allergies! I guess I should be following up with another allergist!

      Paula Hafner 3 years ago

      Our family doctor wrote up a special request to the allergist to have her tested for a food dye allergy. She ate some cinnamon candy at 14 and had a bad reaction. I finally narrowed it down to it being the dye. It’s not commonly tested without a doctor’s orders.

    The Atomic Mom 3 years ago

    I have a friend who is Red Dye #40 allergic…so I believe you. I also have another friend with a son who is allergic to carrots. Yes, plain old carrots. Which is why I always say, if you can put it in your mouth, you can be allergic to it.

    JenKehl 3 years ago

    And all of this is why I say, if you don’t like what you hear from your doctor. GO FIND A NEW ONE!
    I didn’t write about this, but my son is also allergic to extreme heat and extreme cold, we live in the midwest so we have both. Our pediatrician poo pooed it. Needless to say, we moved on and found out they are both real conditions!

    JOanna Bateman 2 years ago

    I need to know who to take my kid to to be tested for food dye allergys!!! I know she is allergic just not confirmed!! who did you go to how did you find out?

    Amy Fitzpatrick 1 year ago

    Can I ask how they tested for food dyes? My understanding of food dye sensitivities is that they can result in all of the same reactions as traditional food allergies (up to and including anaphylaxis) but that they are not IgE mediated and therefore cannot be tested via traditional RAST testing. Without doing an oral food challenge, is there actually a testing option?

therobynnest 3 years ago

I’ve read that cross-contamination from foods processed on the same equipment is as high as 15-20%. Definitely not one in a million, unfortunately. And still, I was guilty of allowing it.

This is all great advice. My pediatrician (as well as the first allergist we saw) was incompetent when it came to helping us.

My advice would be to only go to the best doctor in a 50 mile radius of your home. Research it, ask everyone. There are a lot of quacks out there.

    Jen 3 years ago

    I completely agree! The deal with cross-contamination is the randomness of it!

CaffeineJunkie 3 years ago

Great article and I can totally relate to this cause if you just substitute food alergies for Type 1 Diabetes, it’s basically the same thing. All of it applies. Nearly 4 years into this now, I am still that helicopter parent at social outings, checking everything he eats, monitoring him for signs of low blood sugar etc, and absolutely I insist on having the nutritional info on everything. I apologize for none of it cause it’s my job as a Mom to keep him alive and well, first and foremost. Kuddos to all you moms who do deal with food allergies. I get it. I so get it.

Leslie Marin – The Pioneer Mom 3 years ago

Wonderful info! The number one thing is to keep your child safe. It’s amazing how many of our sacrifices that are necessary for the safety of our little ones. Think of how they feel about not having something most others can have. And you are 100% Spot on about being the best advocate you can for your child! Nicely done!

MILF Runner 3 years ago

We face this regularly at our school, though my own kids don’t have life-threatening allergies. What I would have loved (and asked for from the parents but never got!) would be a list of the allergic kids’ favorite snacks and how the parents have successfully worked around stuff like birthday cakes, etc. Yes, we could all do the research, but the experienced parents know specifically (and generally) what works for their kid. I have a whole lot of food intolerances…which sucks but they aren’t deadly…the research I have to do to eat ‘safely’ is huge and I am always happy to share it.

This is a great post.

    JenKehl 3 years ago

    Thanks! And I completely agree. I do think it’s the school’s job to ask the parents of allergic kids to provide that information. I’m sure if asked, they’d be happy too.

Frankie Laursen 3 years ago

These are great tips. My children do not have any food allergies, but some of their friends do.

I was so sad to read about the 13-year old Sacramento, CA girl who died recently from eating a small amount of peanuts in a Rice Krispie.

My son’s school is not peanut-free. I usually pack a PBJ for him. Now I wonder whether I shouldn’t, just in case. What would you recommend?

    JenKehl 3 years ago

    Thank you! We do sunbutter at our house. I’m not going to lie and say it tastes exactly like peanut butter, but it is darn close. You might try it. At the very least, maybe send your son with some wet wipe singles so he can really be sure all of the sticky peanut butter is off of his hands and face.

    The Atomic Mom 3 years ago

    I have a peanut/tree nut allergic son. Our school is also not peanut/treenut free. It scares me to death, but his teachers know, and they have a no sharing policy and he is still young enough that they have a monitor with his class at snack time. As for what to do…does your child have a peanut allergic friend he would like to sit with or play with? Is there a peanut allergic child in the classroom? Those are some of the things you need to consider when sending a PB&J. Because if the answer is yes, I would tell you to stop sending the PB&J. Ask the teacher, ask the nurse, ask the principal and then make the decision if there are peanut./treenut allergic kids in close contact with your child. You can never be too careful. There are plenty of peanut free lunch options that are not expensive or too difficult. Just a few clicks on the google and you will find a wealth of information. My favorite peanut/treenut free lunch box blog is The Keeley McGuire Blog.

    Kathleen 3 years ago

    One thing that many people don’t realize about certain food allergies (and I had no clue about this until my son ended up having an allergy) is that they don’t necessarily have to ingest the food to have a reaction. They don’t even need to touch it. Sometimes, the smell alone can cause a very sensitive person to have a life-threatening reaction. I know this is true of peanut allergies. My son has had reactions simply from walking past a table that had a jar of peanut butter on it. Not every person with a peanut allergy is that sensitive and even my son is not consistently that sensitive.

    Because you don’t know what sort of allergies are present around your son, and your school hasn’t required you to stop sending PBJ, I would keep doing what you’re doing but I did like the comment about including wipes and/or instructing your child to wash his hands after eating. It is the responsibility of the parent of the allergic child to protect that child and if that child is ultra sensitive then special steps should be taken or the child should be sent to a school with an allergen free lunch room. I don’t feel that everyone else should have to change because of my son’s allergy. It’s something he and I will have to deal with. (I do make exceptions to this in closed environments like airplanes where he has nowhere else to go.)

      Alison 3 years ago

      I’m so curious since you mentioned airplanes – I have an allergic kids too, (eggs, peanuts, tree nuts) and I have no idea how to handle air travel. If yours is super sensitive – what kind of advocacy can you do to encourage a safe space in that environment?

        Pam 3 years ago

        To answer the airplane question, when we flew to Florida we called the airline (Southwest) well in advance to let them know. They did not serve any peanuts/nuts on our flight, and they also made an announcement to all passengers that someone on the flight had a severe peanut allergy and to please refrain from eating nuts. We still brought his snacks, but at least this way there weren’t peanuts and peanut wrappers all over the place. I think most airlines would accommodate?

          Pam 3 years ago

          One more thing – we also brought wipes and wiped down the tray and arm rests…

        Mary 3 years ago

        My 12 yr. old DD is allergic to peanuts. Fortunately she hasn’t had anaphylaxis (yet). She flew for the second time last month. Last year we flew Southwest. They let us preboard and I could wipe down the seat, armrest and tray. They announced there was a peanut allergy on the flight and an alternate snack would be served.
        This month we flew Delta. We did not get to preboard but in the announcement they asked that passengers refrain from eating peanut products. We also received both pretzels and cookies.
        We did get a letter from her physician each time authorizing the Epipen on each flight. But no one even mentioned it or asked for it during security.

        Kathleen 3 years ago

        What Pam said. I alert the airline in advance and then they won’t serve peanuts that flight and they do make an announcement as well. The only one I’ve flown with is Southwest also but I’m sure other airlines would do the same. They don’t want someone going into shock at 30k feet any more than you do.

        Theresa 1 year ago

        Sadly, the number of airlines who accommodate passengers with nut allergy (Southwest, Jetblue, Delta) are way less than the number of airlines who do not. Furthermore, airline policies vary widely on how to handle passengers with nut allergy.

        My 6-year old son has severe nut/tree nut allergy (in addition to dairy and seafood). We usually travel 3 to 4 times a year, usually out-of-country, so the longest leg of our flights can be anywhere from 6 to as much as 15 hours. Unfortunately, although the airline we use often don’t serve peanuts they don’t create a buffer-zone for nut-allergic passengers. Here are my suggestions based on my experience:

        1) Try to pre-board so you can wipe the space (especially the tray) around your child’s seat. If it’s a short flight, try to get on the first flight out because planes don’t usually get vacuumed until after its last flight of the day.

        2) If the carpets cleanliness is questionable and the airline happens to provide a blanket use that to cover the floor and the space under the seat in front you. I do that regardless of the condition of the carpet since that’s where I stow my son’s carry-on luggage (where we keep his snacks and activity books).

        3) Bring enough food/snack to last the duration of your flight. Flights attendants won’t be able to tell you with absolute certainty whether the food they’re serving has no nuts (or dairy) since they don’t have the ingredients information on-board.

        4) BRING AS MUCH EPI-PEN AS YOU CAN. I always have at least 6 on my carry-on, in addition to Benadryl. Make sure you also have your child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan with you.

        5) Bring a mask (the type they hand out at the doctor’s office for people to wear if they have a cough). If you explain your child’s condition most people won’t mind waiting until after they deplane to enjoy the peanut snack that they brought on-board. However, some people might feel that their “rights” are more important that the well-being of a fellow passenger so they might politely refuse your request. This is of course an extreme scenario but if you happen to read the discussion boards or comments posted on some articles online you’ll be surprised at how insensitive/uncaring some people can be. Thankfully we’ve never had an issue like this and have never found the need for my son to use a mask during a flight.

        6) If you’re trying to decide which airline to book for a flight this link might help. It has a list of major airlines and their policy regarding food allergies :

      Jen 3 years ago

      Kathleen, there’s something else. When I fly with my son I bring 8 epi-pens. I know that sounds excessive, but, one epi-pen injection only buys you 15 minutes for a severe reaction. It would take much longer than that for a plane to make an emergency landing. I say better safe than sorry.

      B Gregory 1 year ago

      I was shocked when I found out what is causing all these food allergies. A friend’s daughter has a serious fish allergy. If she smells fish cooking, it means a hospital trip. The epi pen will help get her there maybe. You can read the regulations for yourself. Pharmaceutical companies can “self-affirm” GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredients. Basically, they decide something like refined GMO soy oil should be GRAS. They do one study, have some experts review it, then they are free to use it without submitting anything to the government and it becomes a protected trade secret. How can the FDA protect the public when even they don’t know what is in pharmaceutical products?

    Ann 2 years ago

    As much as I sympathize with the plight of food-allergic people and their parents, I ABSOLUTELY OBJECT to #8: “You must push for an allergen free classroom. It is not acceptable that the allergens be allowed in the classroom no matter the occasion and you have to put your foot down.” NO WAY. Sorry, Parents of Allergic Kids, it is YOUR job to teach your kids not to eat stuff they are allergic to. I don’t know where the concept of personal responsibility disappeared to in our culture, but it’s time for it to come back.

    Certainly make the admins/nurses/teachers aware of their allergies, of course. But to expect everyone else to adjust their entire lives and their kids’ diets around YOUR kids’ allergies? I don’t support that. I have and will always follow the diet that is right for my family including in my childrens’ school lunches and snacks.

    It is way overstepping your boundaries to expect me to accommodate the needs of a minority of schoolchildren, who may or may not even come into contact with my kid. And even if they did, it is your responsibility and theirs to protect them from their own allergies. Even if an entire school did keep these foods away from your child, the rest of the world isn’t going to.

    In the articles’ own words, “You must be an active part of your child’s life in school to insure his safety.” Meaning, YOU. NOT me. Not my kids. YOU.

    I am so over being expected to adjust my family’s life around every minority in the entire world. If you are the minority you adjust to the majority, that’s how this shit works- or you take care of your special needs on your own. I am not screwing with my kids’ diet over yours any more than I will support a boy who “gender identifies” as a girl in my daughters’ locker room.

      RED_JOHN 1 year ago

      Do you have any idea how absolutely ignorant and hateful you sound? Since when are people with life threatening allergies a minority? Where does it say in the Constitution that your kid has the right to eat peanut butter? How do you process the fact that killing someone is less important than your kid eating a snickers? Where do such self absorbed people like you come from, must be New York, or the people’s republic of California.

      Caroline 1 year ago

      Ann, since when your shallow need of peanut butter is more mportant than a child’s life? Your freedom ends where other’s begin. I certainly do not with you or your kids to have a life threatening allegy, but at the same time I wish because you would THEN understand how stupid, shallow and mostly ignorant you sound.

      Allergy Mom 12 months ago

      I have a son with a contact milk/nut allergy, but I agree with most of what this person is saying. I don’t believe that someone should push for allergen free classrooms unless the allergy is contact or airborne. I just teach my kid to deal with his allergies, because that is what he will have to do for the rest of his life.

      My son was diagnosed at 6 months, and it hasn’t been easy. Playgrounds are tough, because you never know what the kid who used the monkey bars before my son ate for breakfast, or school events where they serve ice cream as a treat for the kids. He has learned to go to birthday parties and sit at the end of the table after I discreetly wipe it down for him. He always tries to put a bit of space between himself and the people eating around him at lunch at school. He is very conscious of his body and cautious to alert an adult if he starts to feel like an attack might come on. It is not easy training an toddler to do these things, but it is my responsibility to teach him how to live.

      Now that he is in school, I have a whole new set of issues to deal with, but we try to make it as easy as we can for the other parents and kids. I attend every celebration in class. He has been trained to never take food from anyone other than his parents. Every shirt he has is tagged with my cell number and and what his allergies are.

      He can’t go to drop off play dates until I feel that he is mature enough to epi pen himself in an emergency situation.
      By the way I think it is ridiculous to drop off your child who has a severe allergy to some random parent and expect them to epi pen your child in an emergency situation.
      If you have a child with a severe allergy, suck it up and teach your child how to deal with it, and take the responsibility of having to be with your child until they can deal with it. Don’t inconvenience other parents unless it is absolutely necessary.
      I cannot tell you how many times I have dealt with parents whose kids have minor allergies and they blow it up into a cause because they don’t want their kid to feel “left out”.
      Even worse are those parents that don’t tell their child about their allergy, but want everyone else in the classroom to accommodate their kids allergy like some messed up secret.
      It is those parents that make it so hard for the parents whose kids have severe allergies to deal with the general public.
      Every year I have to stand up during “parent night” at school and explain to the other parents about my son’s allergies. The teacher requests this of me, but I feel like it is fruitless, because a lot of parents feel the same way that this one does, but doesn’t want to say it.
      I’m fine with that, but all I can say is that when your kid kills another kid because you packed them a peanut butter sandwich, don’t complain about the therapy bills and the fact that you’ll have to move because your kid will never bounce back from killing a kid. Trust me your community is going to villianize you and your kid for being the jerks who would rather kill a kid than give up their right to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.


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