Outdoor holiday celebrations are fun but they can also be a source of stress for parents of children with food allergies. Here are some ways to keep your child safe at barbecues, cookouts and picnics.
1. Carry epinephrine.
This is the most important part of preparing for an outdoor event. Keep your child’s epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times. Also don’t forget that they can’t get too hot or too cold. Keep them well insulated and out of sun.
2. Host the celebration.
Consider hosting the event at your own home where you can serve safe foods. If people want to bring food, tell them they can come help prep your safe food instead. This may work best for smaller gatherings if you are supplying all the food. But it is one way to control the food your child will have access to.
3. Bring safe foods for your child.
Outdoor events are the perfect setting for food cross-contamination. If you bring a dish to share that is safe for your child, set some aside and label it before anyone else is served. Keep it separate from the main food area. Or bring a safe meal just for your child and avoid cross-contamination completely. Make it fun, maybe in the theme of the holiday, so your child isn’t disappointed if their food is “different.”
4. Let everyone know about your child’s food allergy.
Make sure everyone knows about your child’s food allergy. Ask them to not feed your child at all. You can also let the host know before the event. They may be willing to help you spread the word and help keep your child safe.
5. Keep your very young child close.
Little ones often don’t think anything about picking a bite of food off the food table or asking others for food. Keep a close eye on your child to make sure accidents don’t happen. Consider feeding them a bit extra before you leave home so they may be less likely to want to graze.