I have recently been working with Holland and Barrett to promote their new FreeFrom range. I wrote this article for their Free From Foods information pages to offer some advice about keeping children safe at Summer events.
Summers are full of outdoor fun – BBQs, picnics and ice cream vans. A time where our little ones can run around freely as mum and dad enjoy a nice glass of Pimms and a relaxing catch up with friends. That’s unless your child has food allergies of course. In which case you are likely to be the parent with the slightly crazed look on their face, chasing children around with wipes and triple checking every ingredient label before it makes it near their sticky fingers.
It’s never easy trying to protect your child while giving them and you the freedom to relax a little. I certainly haven’t got the hang of it yet, but here are my five top tips that may help.
TIP 1 – TALK TO THE HOST
It can be tempting not to cause a fuss and it’s easy to feel like you are that annoying parent who is always asking questions. But that’s what we need to do. Most people don’t understand food allergies or don’t even think about it because they don’t need to. If you explain the situation, offer to provide alternatives and provide a few simple safety measures, like wiping hands and faces, you may be surprised how willing people are to help.
TIP 2 – TAKE YOUR OWN FOOD
For the most part, you cannot expect other people to cater safely for your child so it is a good idea to always take along your own food. Talk to the host and find out what’s being served so you can provide a similar alternative, or offer to make something yourself. There are so many fun but allergy safe recipes out there that include many kids’ favourites. Best of all, shops like Holland & Barrett More in Chester now stock over 700 free-from food products and over 1,000 online – (See some fab ‘free from’ recipes below).
TIP 3 – SHARING YOUR CHILD’S ALLERGY STATUS WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY
My friends have been amazing in catering for J’s allergies. They know to look out for him, to check ingredients and even make him special food at group gatherings. This understanding makes it so much easier for me and J. So, try to educate family and friends as much as possible to be your extra eyes and ears as it really does take a village to raise an allergy child.
TIP 4 – EDUCATE YOUR CHILD
J is only two-years-old, so he can’t be responsible for avoiding his allergens yet. But we are trying to teach him about it in a way he can understand. He knows he can’t have cow’s milk because it will make him poorly and he knows that it is in cheese and ‘normal’ chocolate. I am not at the stage where I would trust or expect him to follow through with this but hopefully as he gets older he can and can run along to summer parties and know what is safe to eat.
TIP 5 – MINIMISE RISKS
There is always risk when you take a child with food allergies to any situation involving food, but there are ways to minimise it.
- Think about feeding them beforehand so they are not hungry
- Avoid the ice cream van times at the park
- Put out wipes so they are handy for people
- Clear away any leftover plates
- Consider putting your child in an alert T-shirt like the ones from Allergy Buddies or, purchase an allergy awareness wristband for your child, which describes which allergy he/she has
- Finally, I know it’s obvious, but always carry your child’s medication. It can be very easy to forget on a quick trip to the park or bike ride but unfortunately, you never know when you will need it.
TIP 5 – FAB, FUN RECIPES FOR KIDS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES
Check out these favourites which always go down really well with all kids:
What are your top tips for keeping your children safe at summer events?