Warmer weather is here and that means outdoor picnics and barbecues. By preparing ahead of time, you can reduce your stress and avoid allergic reactions. Here are some ways to keep your child safe at gatherings.
1. Bring the Epinephrine
This is the most important part of preparing for an outing. Keep your child’s epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times. Make sure you know how to give your child epinephrine correctly in case of an allergic reaction. Remember to protect epinephrine devices so they don’t get too hot or too cold. Keep them out of the sun and out of reach of other curious children.
2. Keep Safe Food Safe
Allergen cross-contact can easily happen at picnics and potlucks. If you bring a dish to share that is safe for your child, set some aside and label it before putting the dish on the serving table. Keep it separate from the main food area. Cross-contact can happen if guests mix up serving spoons, touch other items on their plate, or drip across another dish as they are serving.
Another option is to bring a safe meal just for your child. Make it fun so your child isn’t disappointed if their food is “different.”
3. Skip Foods Without a Label
Make the day about having fun with family and friends instead of the food being served. Sometimes this can be hard when there are yummy-looking foods on the table. Bring extra treats for your child.
If a food doesn’t have a label you can read, don’t feed it to your child. Snacks or other foods out of the package can look like something your child eats safely, but different brands can have different ingredients.
This goes for dishes prepared by other guests too. Even if they can tell you what ingredients or brands they used, they may not remember everything they added while they were preparing it.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Young Child
Little ones often don’t understand which foods are safe and which are not. In the time it takes for you to turn your head and say hello to someone, little ones can pick up a bite of food or be offered food by others. Keep a close eye on your child to make sure accidents don’t happen. Be sure they know which adults to come to when they want something to eat.
If you are at the gathering with a spouse or trusted family members or friends, take turns being "on duty" so everyone gets to socialize. Or train a trusted older child or teen to shadow your child. Use KFA’s resources to help train caregivers.
5. Bring Wipes to Keep Hands Clean
Most likely, your child will be playing with other children and adults who are eating unsafe foods. Bring disposable hand wipes so it is easy for everyone to keep their hands clean. Remember that hand sanitizers do not remove food proteins. If a bathroom is not available to wash up, hand wipes are your next best option.
6. Let Others Know About Your Child’s Food Allergy
Make sure everyone knows about your child’s food allergy. Ask them not to feed your child at all. Have quick answers ready about why food allergies are a big deal. Let the host know about your child’s food allergy before the event. They may be willing to help you spread the word and help keep your child safe.
Need more help managing your child’s food allergies? Join our community and follow our blog to so you can be updated on new, research, advocacy, events, and more. Our online support community also gives you an opportunity to connect with other families managing food allergies.