As the holidays approach, we want our children to enjoy all school festivities. However, as a parent of a child with food allergies, this also brings extra concerns and stress. Studies show that activities outside the norm, like class parties, present a higher risk for children with food allergies.
The goal is to ensure that children with food allergies can participate safely. But as a parent how can you manage your child’s food allergy and ensure they’re protected when they are not in your care?
First and foremost, have a conversation with the school nurse and administrators regarding your child’s allergy and the upcoming school festivities. If your child has an epi-pen (epinephrine) ensure it is always with them, and that the teacher and nurse know how to use it.
• Be Proactive: Talk to the teacher early about safe foods for your child, and ask that a list of allergens be included in the party announcement. Enlist the help of the teacher and other parents – educate them. Offer to provide tips for substitutions such as using almond milk instead of dairy, or brands that exclude allergens. Make sure they understand the importance of preventing cross contamination with allergens. Request that the parents reply with the name of their dish and the ingredient list a few days prior to the party so you can better prepare your child.
• Get Involved: If possible, volunteer to help during holiday party celebrations. Help organize the festivities and join in the fun! Being present in the classroom to oversee your child’s food choices will alleviate a lot of stress.
• Get your child a medical ID: A MedicAlert ID such as a bracelet, necklace, or shoe tag will give you peace-of-mind when you’re not with your child. In an emergency, a medical ID can identify your child’s allergy and MedicAlert will quickly communicate critical health information to a first responder, ensuring your child gets prompt and effective care.
• Empower your child: Provide your child with the confidence and education to understand the foods they can eat. Call the teacher to ask about foods being served at the party; talk to your child about what to eat and what to avoid while you’re at home in a calm environment. Preparing ahead of time can help them make the right choices even with the excitement of the party. Ensure your child knows not to share food or drinks and tell them to notify an adult right away if they are experiencing any discomfort or a reaction.
• Be prepared: Pack a holiday lunch or snack for your child. Choose special treats they rarely have or safe foods similar to what is being served in the classroom.
The above tips will help you navigate holiday classroom parties so your child can focus on the fun! For more allergy information, be sure to check out Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.
What is MedicAlert? It’s not just a medical ID. MedicAlert is peace of mind, knowing that if your child has a medical emergency, MedicAlert Foundation is there. With a MedicAlert ID and membership, your child’s medical history and emergency information is stored, safe and secure, in their MedicAlert profile.
How does it work? Emergency response teams are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID. In an emergency, accessing the MedicAlert ID number on your bracelet, necklace or tag will connect first responders to MedicAlert’s 24/7 MedicAlert Emergency Response Team. They will relay your child’s medical history and list of emergency contacts, providing first responders with a detailed health record and action plan.