Raising a toddler with food allergies is challenging and it can be especially hard in social situations. Wherever food is served becomes a minefield of dangers and difficulties. Children’s parties are a terror – unsafe food, crumbs and leftovers on every surface, and children with sticky fingers.
There are two main choices: Don’t go – but then J misses out, or take our own food.
I generally have a stash of safe food for him anyway but it’s difficult to explain to a toddler why he can’t have all the treats everyone else has. This option also doesn’t remove the dangers – the leftovers and sticky fingers are still rampant.
When friends go free from
Luckily there is a third choice – find a fabulous group of friends who are happy to cater for him!
J recently turned 2 and so did all his friends whose parents we met at NCT classes. This group of parents have been with me through James’ early difficulties, his diagnosis and on the weekend he had his anaphylactic reaction. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
So when party season rolled around I was happy and humbled that they all catered for his allergies. They asked questions, requested recipes and ingredients, and went to great lengths to make sure he was safe and included.
The favourites were:
J was in his element and at the most recent party – where my friend served up a free from feast for 19 kids! – he was trying to plunder the buffet as soon as we got there. Plus all the children enjoyed it and never stopped to wonder if it was different from any ‘normal’ party menu.
Helping others to help us
Ultimately it is our responsibility to keep J safe but other parents also don’t want to risk him having a reaction. Allergies are scary for everyone involved. So I think being able to easily provide free-from food helps to put everyone at ease.
I know we will continue to face challenges with J’s allergies and as his social circle opens up to nursery and school we won’t be so close to all the parents. Writing this blog is a great help though as I can easily direct people to replacement recipes and ideas.
Hopefully, the more we can talk to other parents about allergies and offer them the support and resources to help, the easier it will become for everyone involved.