Birthday Parties

If you have a child with food allergies or restrictions of any kind, birthday parties can be a source of difficulty. Not only are you faced with having to discuss, usually at length, your child’s food issues, but I personally always get this slightly panicked feeling as I send them off.

It didn’t used to be so bad. Before, I would always accompany my kids. I still do stay with my daughter as she’s only 4, but my little man, he’s almost 6.. and he goes by himself now.

His latest party was on Sunday and not only was I not going, but I couldn’t drop him off or pick him up because I had a meeting. Mini freak out? Why yes, yes I did.

I thought it might be helpful to have a list of questions to ask, or things to remember to discuss as you start to send your child on his own, as well as things to talk to your child about. You see, believe that the more you share with your children about their limitations, the more they will become an advocate and become a stronger little human. These are also questions you yourself can use to ask potential dinner hosts or restaurants!

To the child attending the party:
* Make sure you review the “If in doubt, spit it out” rule. Vital rule for the rest of their life.
* Review and rehearse exactly what they allergic to, and make sure they can say it in a full, clear sentence. “I am allergic to peanuts and nuts and I can’t have any at all.” – simple words are all that is needed.
* Review the “what-if” scenarios – what if you feel like your throat is making it hard to breathe? Where is your epipen located?
* Make sure your child has a medical alert bracelet. This could save their life.

To the hosts:
* Be clear that there your child has food allergies / celiac disease and that you need to make sure that the food at the party will be safe for your child.
* I always ask whether that parent is comfortable with my child’s allergies. As much as I don’t want my kid to miss a party, I’d rather he come home alive.
* I ask for a list of foods that will be served including brands
* I ask where the cake is from, and if it’s homemade, how often they bake with nuts
* Ask if they know anyone with food allergies directly and have they ever dealt with them before

It’s usually a long conversation. But so far I have felt really comfortable in each situation letting Little Man go to parties. He’s gone to 2 this school year in people’s homes I’ve never met. Both times the parents were wonderful. My husband also told me that Little Man went around telling everyone to put away any nuts because he’s very allergic. Now *THAT* is what I call an advocate!

Don’t be ashamed of your food restrictions. The more you educate people, the more they will know for next time. You are responsible for your health, and for the health of your child. Be strong – the first conversation might feel awkward and hard, but it gets easier each time.


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