Planning ahead is one of the biggest ways to keep food allergies from ruining your child’s school celebrations this holiday season. Take some action now to help relieve anxiety about allergic reactions and prevent them from occurring at all.
If your child attends school away from home, it’s up to you to remind teachers and staff that your child has a food allergy. This is an excellent time to send in a friendly letter reminding your child’s teachers that he/she has a food allergy. You can use our Holiday Allergy Reminder Letter Template or draft your own easily. And if you haven’t already sent one in, you can borrow our template for an allergy letter as well. When reminding your child’s teacher, it may be helpful to add clues about your child’s specific reactions to allergens as well as directions on handling them. Not all schools prohibit common food offenders, so making a few easy suggestions can be more than helpful.
- Ask your child’s teacher to clearly label foods your child is allergic to.
- Clean surfaces & utensils are an important tool in preventing cross-contamination. A cutting board & knife used to cut wheat bread cannot be used to slice an apple for a child with a gluten allergy.
- Handwashing by anyone involved in food handling is important. The unnoticed transfer of oils or crumbs from a food to a person’s hands can be all that is needed to contaminate an otherwise safe food.
- Remind teachers that you can send in treats for your child. Making your own is the best bet for controlling ingredients, but if you aren’t into baking or don’t have the time, Sunrype offers a variety of individually packaged treats that are free of many common food allergens such as gluten, dairy, eggs & nuts. And their products are free of MSG & unhealthy additives.
- If you have a younger child, or a child that isn’t mature enough or developmentally capable to speak up about their food allergies, consider dressing them in food allergy apparel by Allergy Warning Labels to alert teachers & other adults working in the classroom. Or invest in stickers you can use for times you will be away from your child.
- Consider writing a letter to the parents of your child’s classmates. You can take the opportunity to let them know about your child’s food allergies. This isn’t something every parents will need or want to do, but it’s especially helpful in cases where the wrong foods can cause an anaphylactic reaction & may discourage them from being sent in.
- If your child’s reaction requires it, be sure to have an epinephrine pen with simple & clear instructions.
Whatever your child’s food allergy, the best defense against cross-contamination, reaction and mistakes is to be involved throughout the entire holiday season. If at all possible, attend these end-of-year parties and lend a hand in your son or daughter’s classroon. Your child’s teacher will be thankful for the extra hands (and eyes), and you will be able to monitor all potential food risks.
Allergen-free family? Don’t think that just because your child doesn’t have food allergies that you can’t do anything to help out with seasonal parties. If you’re involved with school parties in any capacity (from sending in snacks to passing out plates), you can play a part in the party’s success. Instead of ignoring or fearing the food allergy, educate yourself. The more you know about something, the more manageable and less intimidating it becomes. When sending in goodies for class parties, consider contacting the teacher in advance to request a list of allergies. If you do decide to send in a treat, consider a non-food option. This is not only a great option for a classmate with an allergy, but it’s a good way to help cut down on the excess of non-healthy foods students will consume.
How do you handle your child’s holiday parties?