Help! My child has a playdate with a child with multiple food allergies! How to prep your house

By Shannon March 10, 2014 Tips and Tricks

I’ve had that reaction before.  You know, the deer in headlights stare when I hear another child ask if my child can come over to play and I tell the mom my son has multiple allergies.  It’s frightening enough to be responsible for someone else’s child in your home, and even more so when you have a child with several allergies that you are unfamiliar with is coming over.  I am not a doctor, but I’m a mom who has dealt with this issue before.  As always, if you are unsure, consult a pediatrician.  Here are some good tips to prepare you for the playdate.

First, make sure you speak in depth about the child’s allergies with the mother and/or father.  It’s best if you can get as many details as possible.  A lot of times I’ve written down exactly what my son can and cannot touch, eat or be around. Keep the list handy and go over it with everyone in the house.  Again, you want to make sure that everyone is comfortable and on the same page.

Second, offer the other parent to stay if there is still some hesitancy to ensure the safety of all involved.  Bonus is that you make a new friend.  You can also watch to see how the other parent handles mealtimes and what specific foods are good for the child to eat.  For example, I had my son spend part of the summer at my friend Kim’s house to play with her sons while I was working.  When we first went over there, I saw that her kids eat everything my child can’t.  It was great to just hang out with her and explain what my son can and can’t eat, and show her his different foods. We had lots of fun just hanging out ourselves and became good friends. Over time, she felt comfortable enough to feed him on her own and make sure that she kept everything of his separate.

Third, if you are still unsure, ask the other parent to bring in food.  Most likely, this is what the other parent will do, but if not, it doesn’t hurt to ask.  I typically bring food everywhere since we are so brand loyal to particular foods that we know are safe.  Some of our favorite brands are Enjoy Life and Lay’s potato chips.

Fourth, have an open conversation about Epi-Pens and have a safety plan in place in case of reaction.  Epi-pens have a trainer pen for practice, so ask for one and how to use it.  The other parent should give you some details regarding reaction symptoms, what to do if a reaction occurs, allergy medicine, and emergency contacts. It’s very important you find out symptoms and have a plan in place.  Being prepared will also give you piece of mind.

Lastly, take your list of allergens and go through your house.  Put away anything that may have an allergen in it, and make sure all dishes and surfaces are clean and washed before the child comes over.  Don’t forget to wipe down toys, either!

Overall, having a child with multiple food allergies come over should be fun as well as safe.  All kids deserve to have a great time, regardless of their food limitations.  Kudos to all of you who see past the allergies and allow an allergic child into your home!

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