Supporting Children With Food Allergies
An allergy is the body's immune system responding to something that wouldn’t ordinarily pose a problem. Most commonly, this includes things like pollen, nuts, dairy or gluten; though human bodies can be allergic to pretty much anything.
Around 8% of children have an allergy of some kind and, though a quarter of these will grow out of this as they enter adolescence, it’s understandable to have some anxiety surrounding your child’s reactions. Here’s our advice on how best to support your child’s food allergy.
It’s normal to have concerns and worries about your child’s allergy, but remember, children will be very aware of your reaction and attitude to an allergy diagnosis. While it is important that your child is aware of the severity of their allergies, a stressed and fearful reaction will likely instil anxieties in your child. If you remain cool, calm and positive when discussing an explaining their allergies, your child will be sure to follow your lead.
Show and Teach
Practise allergy management behaviours – reading food labels together, asking about ingredients when eating out and always ensuring they know where their epi-pen is. Invite your child to help prepare meals and treats that are suitable for them and be sure to use subtle, positive reinforcement like ‘now we’ve read the ingredients, we know this is safe’ or ‘we’ve packed our epi-pen, so now we’re ready to leave the house’.
Communicate Clearly With Other Care-Givers
Form a team of allergy-wise guardians for your child, be it grandparents, uncles, aunts, school teachers or nursery nurses, be sure that everyone who is regularly responsible for your child without you present is clued up on your child’s needs. Schools or nurseries may already have allergy management training, but do double check this.
Our Personalised Allergy Labels
are perfect for lunchboxes, while for younger suffers, our Fab and Funky Wristbands
are a cute and colourful reminder for guardians to be vigilant when your child is in their care.
Ensure Your Child Does Not Feel Isolated
When your child is young, it may be easy for them to feel like they’re missing out on certain foods, especially if it’s a treat that they perhaps would ordinarily be able to have – chocolate brownies that include nuts or ice cream that is not suitable for Coeliacs, for example. Always carry ‘special’ allergy-safe treats in your handbag or glove box and be sure to praise your child for their maturity in saying no to yummy things.
Role play is a great learning strategy for young children, be it teaching good manners, crossing the road or managing their allergies, this play-pretend makes it very easy for children to apply these situations to real life. Teach your child to ask the ingredients of homemade things and politely decline non-allergy safe products. If your child is a little younger, teach them to ask ‘did my mum say I could have that?’ or ‘I’m allergic to [blank] please can you read the label for me’.