Kids Food Allergies Hot Sheet for Moms & Party Hosts

We’ve created a hot sheet for moms whose children are afflicted with a food allergy, as well as to help those who know how important it is to consider food allergies when planning kids parties.


While it’s scary enough to manage your child’s food allergen on a daily basis, the thought of not being able to monitor his every bite when he heads off to school or to a friend’s birthday party is frightening.

Below you’ll find the most common food allergies found in children, alternative foods to serve at parties, tips for moms looking to protect their child as well as tips for hosts, and finally, what to do should an attack occur.

All of the information below was gathered from reliable online resources – KidsWithFoodAllergies.org or KidsHealth.org – but, should your child suffer from a food allergen, we strongly encourage you to do your own research and speak to a doctor to build upon the tips we suggest.

Quick Look: Most Common Food Allergies in Kids

Known commonly as the “big eight” the following foods are the biggest allergies among children, accounting for 90% of all severe reactions.

Milk
Eggs
Peanuts
Tree Nuts
Wheat
Soy
Fish
Shellfish

Children will generally outgrow their allergy to particular foods around the age of 6 or 7, but not always. It’s important to have your child’s allergy monitored to ensure their safety.

If your child is afflicted with a food allergy, visit sites like KidsWithFoodAllergies.org or KidsHealth.org, for more information on how to manage it and to find a doctor. They’re both reliable resources with lots of tips, information and support!

Common Allergen-Free Party Treats for Kids

Fruit-Kebabs – These are generally a safe bet for all kids. Keep fruit fresh and simple, pop on a stick and enjoy!

Homemade Cupcakes - You can't control what ingredients go into store bought sweets, so if you want to serve cupcakes at your party and keep them friendly for all, make them! If you know a child has an allergy, don’t use it!

Homemade Popcorn – A common snack for many with a food allergy, you can customize depending upon what allergies are present at your party.

Rice Krispie Treats – Another popular treat for kids, these are also commonly OK for kids with food allergies to enjoy. Get creative and do more than just the same old bars – turn them into a gluten-free cake or pop them on a stick!

Tips to Protect Your Allergic Child at Parties

While you have a good handle on your child’s food allergy while he’s at home, it’s more of a challenge to protect him when he heads off for school or to a friend’s birthday party. Protect your child and allow him to enjoy both school and life celebrations without fear. Here are a few tips:

1. Communicate your child’s allergy with the party host. If you can stay at the party, you can monitor your child’s interaction with food as you normally would. If you’re unable to stay, it’s important to work with the host to best plan how to keep that allergen out of the party mix, and know what to do in case a reaction still occurs.

2. Teach and trust your child to say no thank you. Any child with a food allergen should be educated on it at the earliest opportunity. Give them rules like no food outside home, or ask me before you eat something, and teach them to say a polite “no-thank you” if they aren’t sure if a food is safe for them.

3. Again, education is essential. The older your child gets the more they should learn to recognize allergen threats. Teach them about “trigger foods” that are most often found at parties so you can trust them to steer clear even if the host accidentally offers. For example, a child with a nut allergy might want to avoid brownies or cookies that often include them on the ingredient list. A child with a dairy allergen should know ice cream cake is a pass.

Food Allergy Tips for Party Hosts to Consider

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 5.9 million American children suffer from a food allergy. So, even if you child is not afflicted with a food allergy you should still account for those your small party guests are likely to have.

While it does require some advance thinking, planning a party to keep kids with food allergies safe isn’t a ton of extra work. Here’s how:

1. Communicate with Parents – Find out from moms or dads if in fact, their child suffers from a food allergy. If one does, get a clear understanding of what that allergen is and see if there’s a way you can remove it from the party entirely. If it’s a challenge to do that, coordinate with the child’s parent on how to ensure their child stays safe.

2. Consider the Menu – Though it seems tough, making sure known food allergens stay off your menu isn’t terribly hard. Products containing the big 8 are generally clearly marked, so if you can, keep them out.

If however, you can’t, make sure you have an alternative for children. For example, if a child attending the party has an allergy to peanuts and your child requests PB&J sandwiches at their party, have a grilled cheese standing by for their friend.

Also, be aware that no matter how hard you work to keep food safe, some children’s allergies are just too severe to eat any food prepared outside of their home. Allow them to bring food to the party instead, and be sure to keep it securely packaged and away from any other food that might cause trouble.

3. Be Considerate! – Yes, food allergens require you to do more work, but don’t vocalize any complaints. You’re doing this to keep your party safe for all the children to enjoy. If you hear any of the children making fun or teasing a child because he or she can’t enjoy the same food, put an end to it immediately. Don’t yell or belittle the other child, use it as an opportunity to educate and explain why this food is dangerous to some people.

Also, be careful of the words you use as they could make the difference between acknowledging a special consideration you have to take and making a child feel excluded or different from peers. Something as innocent as “cupcakes for everyone!” could cause a child who can’t enjoy one, feel left out.

What to do if a Child has an Allergic Reaction

Sometimes, despite taking as many precautions as you possibly can, an allergic reaction to food will occur. Reactions to a food allergen will normally occur within a few minutes, but can also present themselves up to hours later. If a child at your party suddenly breaks out in hives, complains of breathing trouble, vomits, swells or complains of a weird tingling feeling, call 911 immediately.

Though the reaction may not seem severe in the first few minutes, it could become life-threatening quickly. Studies have proven that the early administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) is crucial to the success of treating Anaphylaxis, the life threatening reaction to an allergen. Hospital and ambulance staff will have this drug on hand and can administer it immediately.

 

Food allergies are a serious matter for parents and hopefully, the tips we've shared will help get you better informed, whether you're hosting a kids party or sending your child with food allergies to one.

With that, however, you should not rely solely on this information nor use it as a substitute or replacement to the advice your health-care professional shares. As a parent, if you have any concerns about your child's health, consult with your physician.

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