If being a parent can be overwhelming and stressful, having a child with allergies is something else. Trust us, we know from experience! Every meal and snack has to be carefully planned and monitored, and simple activities like going to a birthday party or eating out can become a source of massive stress and anxiety. But with some practical tips and a positive attitude, you can navigate this challenging journey with (relative!) ease. In this article, we’ll give you our top ten practical and creative tips for any parents of children with allergies.
1. Education is key
Learn everything you can about your child’s allergies: Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your child’s allergies, the better equipped you will be to manage them. Educate yourself on the types of allergies your child has, the symptoms to look out for, and how to administer any necessary medication. Consult with your child’s doctor or an allergist to develop a comprehensive management plan. Taking time out at the beginning to have a plan and a greater understanding will do wonders for future stress levels down the road.
2. Be vigilant with food labels
Always read food labels carefully, even for familiar products or ones that you’ve purchased before. Manufacturers can change the ingredients or manufacturing process, so it’s important to check every time. Look for any allergen warnings or traces of allergens in the ingredients list. Most packages these days include an easily visible warning for trace allergens which makes life much easier, but remember not to get too comfortable if you want to avoid any issues.
3. Cook at home
We know that sometimes time simply doesn’t allow it, and we can only do what we can, however it can’t be argued that cooking at home – when and where you can – gives you complete control over what goes into your child’s food. Invest in a good cookbook with allergy-friendly recipes, and experiment with different ingredients to create delicious and nutritious meals that your child will love. Another good idea is to create your own go-to recipe book curated from printouts of online recipes that the family all loves, making dinnertime that little bit easier.
4. Pack snacks and meals when going out
Whether it’s a day trip or a visit to the park, always pack a bag of snacks and meals for your child. This will ensure that your child always has something safe to eat, even if there are no allergy-friendly options available. This tip isn’t just for those who have children with allergies either; anyone with little ones knows they can go from zero to 100 on the hunger scale in the blink of an eye, and having snacks on hand can prevent tantrums, AND help the back pocket too!
5. Educate your child
As your child grows older, it’s important to educate them about their allergies. Teach them what they can and can’t eat, how to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and how to administer any necessary medication. This will empower them to take control of their own health and safety and make it less of a scary thing when they have the knowledge and education to speak up for themselves.
6. Educate others
So much education! Remember, educating others about your child’s allergies is just as important as educating you and your child. This includes family members, friends, teachers, and anyone else who may be responsible for your child’s care and wellbeing. Provide them with clear and concise instructions on what your child can and can’t eat, how to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and what to do in case of an emergency. A ready-made list of appropriate foods that you can easily give to child-minders makes it easier for them, and you’ll feel safer in the knowledge that they have a go-to list to turn to, avoiding unfortunate mistakes. You could even include a back of emergency snacks to give to the carer in appropriate situations
7. Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst
Accidents can (and do) happen, so it’s important to be prepared for an emergency. Always carry your child’s medication with you, and make sure that anyone responsible for your child’s care knows how to administer it. Create an emergency action plan with your child’s doctor or allergist, and review it regularly
8. Connect with other parents
Connect with other parents of children with allergies to share advice, support, and encouragement. Join online support groups or attend local meetings to meet other parents who understand what you’re going through.
9. Get creative with substitutions
Once you start to become more comfortable with what your child can and cannot eat, it’s time to start having fun and experimenting! Food allergies don’t have to mean a life of miserable eating. With some creativity, you can find delicious substitutes for common allergens like dairy and gluten. For example, you can use coconut milk instead of dairy milk, or almond flour instead of wheat flour. Experiment with different ingredients to find what works best for your family, and search for facebook groups to share recipe and ingredient ideas for children with allergies.
10. Take advantage of professional help
Managing allergies can be time-consuming and stressful, so it’s important to take advantage of professional help when you need it. This can be in the form of nutritionists or medical advice, or consider using a meal delivery service that specialises in allergy-friendly meals. Managing a family is difficult enough without throwing allergies into the mix, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help from family, friends, or a professional service if you need it. At Mum’s Village we know what it’s like to deal with stressful allergies (and the inevitable accidents that come with them!) and to suddenly feel like we simply cannot cope with another load of laundry! If that sounds like you, check out our website https://mumsvillagecoasttocoast.com.au/ to see what we can do for you to make life a little bit more manageable.
In conclusion, managing allergies can be challenging, but with some practical tips and a positive attitude, you can navigate this journey with ease. By educating yourself and others, being prepared for emergencies, and getting creative with substitutions, you can ensure that your child stays healthy and happy.