How to Protect Your Child from Food Allergies

A picture of a jar of peanut butter
Food allergies can be deadly and parents have to be proactive to keep their kids safe. Photo © Colleen Butler / Getty Images

No matter what type of food allergy your child has, you can't help but worry every time he's out of your sight. While you may not ever feel 100% confident about your child being away from you where you can't intercept potential dangers, there are precautions you can take to keep him safe. Start with these six life-saving ways to keep your child safe from food allergies.

Be That Mom

When your child has a life-threatening allergy, you quickly become his advocate.

Sometimes your diligence to keep him safe can make you come across like that mom who thinks her precious snowflake is so special he needs preferential treatment. But simple exposure to something your child is allergic to can lead to death within minutes for some so it really doesn't matter what others think.

If another parent has a problem with you asking if the cake or ice cream will have nuts in it, for example, then maybe that's a party your child should skip. It's hard to imagine your child missing a party because someone doesn't understand his food allergy and how it could lead to anaphylactic shock but you are your child's voice and his safety is what matters most.

Be that mom if you have to and talk to everyone who will come in contact with him, including other parents and child care providers. You also want to make time to visit your child's school to talk to the principal, nurse and his teachers because many of your child's classmates will be bringing food allergens to school.

The school's staff can help spot those triggers and work with you to keep your child safe.

Buy Food Allergy Bracelets

There are plenty of food allergy bracelets on the market that are inexpensive but effective in labeling your child's particular allergy. You can find allergy bracelets for eggs, tree nuts, milk, dairy, soy, fish and so much more.

You may want to stay away from food allergy bracelets that look too much like jewelry, though. You don't want someone to mistake the bracelet for a trinket. And be sure your child wears the bracelet everywhere, even if your church, school or camp knows all about your child's allergy.

Label Everything

Look for labels that stick to just about any surface and won't come off in the washing machine or dishwasher. They're great for labeling clothing, lunch boxes, plasticware you put food items in and even your child's shoes so everyone can see your child has an allergy, medications (if any) the child requires and your contact information in case of emergency.

Get Your Child Tested

Talk to your pediatrician about having your child tested for food allergies. There are a number of food allergy tests that can give you an accurate number on where his allergy is on the scale.

For instance, you may know your child has a milk allergy but you can see exactly where he falls in the range. This information can help you get answers about how severe your child's allergy is and can reveal other allergies you may not have known he had.

Update All Medical Information

From day care to Vacation Bible School, make sure everyone who cares for your child knows that he has an allergy. Just because you filled out a school form once doesn't mean you should rely on that information to still be in the office's file cabinets next year. Update your child's medical information and make sure teachers and other caregivers know of your child's allergy by talking to them directly about it.

Educate Your Child

Of course, you can't rely on your three year old to tell everyone about his allergy or know which foods are safe for him to eat. You can begin to educate him about his allergy, though, so he can start to recognize that he does have an allergy he needs to be aware of as well as learning about the foods that can trigger a reaction.

As a parent, it's tough having to deal with keeping him safe from everything from a classmate eating a peanut butter sandwich while sitting next to him or the friendly child on the playground who just wants to share her cookie that may be loaded with your child's food allergies. Many people do not understand the severity of food allergies, despite the number of horrifying anaphylactic shock stories.

Your goal in talking to your child isn't to scare him or make him feel different but it is to help him understand that certain foods and ingredients can make him very sick. As your child grows, he will be able to identify those foods and ingredients on his own and he will be able to better protect himself when you're not around to spot those potentially dangerous allergens.