A new school year has started, and we learned something important over the Summer. Our youngest son has life-threatening food allergies.
This was not a fun thing to find out. An allergy test was actually on my agenda to get him when we got back from our annual road trip. I had my suspicions. Yet, with camp, vacation laundry, and family in town, it was also something that easily got pushed in the back of mind until a trip to the E.R. pulled it to the forefront quickly.
Our 18 month old had suffered from some pretty severe diaper rash, almost weekly. On occasion we would see a single hive around his mouth or little raised bumps on his belly. These rashes were always accompanied by a hot spot type eczema that flared-up when he would eat certain foods. I suspected that the acid in blueberries were giving him the diaper rash. After all, our daughter had a similar intolerance to the acid in tomatoes when she was the same age.
Since our older kids attended a nut-free preschool, we have been pretty sensitive to food allergies. We basically converted to Sunbutter then and never looked back. Our twelve-year-old neighbor is anaphylactic to peanuts and walnuts, shared her journey with us and kept a watchful eye on Logan. She pointed out any flair-ups that she saw, strengthening our suspicions that he might have a food allergy.
But, Logan was eating peanut butter, and almond flour, and eggs, and even had cashews on our road trip. He was fine…until he wasn’t – and that is how allergies work. They are super unpredictable.
The Initial Steps To Take When Your Child Is First Diagnosed With Food Allergies
- See your doctor and have an allergy test. I loved that our allergist went with the side of caution and did a skin prick panel for many foods, but had us do blood work to test for nut allergies. We had an idea of what the culprit was at that point – A Cashew Apricot Coconut Date Bite made by Trader Joe’s.
- Go to F.A.R.E and print out a copy of this form for your house, school, family, and any other caretaker that might be watching your child at any length of time. This is a place to write the action plan you come up with your doctor.
- Have everyone in the house practice with the trainer Epipen or Auvi-q. Even my 5-year-old can use it. This goes for grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, anyone who will be watching your child.
- If your child is in school, this is a really great post about how to make sure that everyone is knowledgeable, stays included, and has the correct documentation for your child’s safety.
- Purge your cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator of any products that contain your allergens. This was something we felt necessary, especially when it came to snacks. Our son is so young, I can’t rely on him not to grab a granola bar from his brother or sister, or eat crumbs off the floor. We’d rather just cut the risk in our home. At some point, we can probably re-introduce certain products into the house in an off-limits cabinet, when everyone is old enough to understand the gravity of the situation.
- Don’t forget to look at your bath products and cosmetics.
- Start reading labels. Things like Vanilla Extract can hide some of the top 8 allergens.
- Join facebook groups like No Nuts Moms Group Support Group and Forum – there is wealth and years of knowledge there.
- Figure out your safe foods and bring them with you. We really like Enjoy Life Products for special treats and on-the-go bars.
- Become familiar with Snack Safely for a list of safe snacks.
- If you are flying soon, see No Nut Traveler for tips on flying safe.
- Bring (2) Epinephrine Auto-Injectors with you EVERYWHERE!!!! These babies are expensive and they expire after a year. To save money, brand names like EpiPen offer coupons. At present, Auvi-Q’s will send you two free sets directly to your home with a prescription from your allergists. I believe pediatricians can also order them for you.
1 and 13 people in the United States have a life-threatening food allergy. Do you or someone in your family or friend group have a food allergy? Do you have any helpful tips?
Food allergies suck. They are unpredictable, have an overwhelming learning curve, and are something to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, and a lack of rules from food labeling to travel that puts people with food allergies at great risk. As we navigate this life with our son, I hope I can share some helpful tips with others.