Valentine’s Day is a tough holiday for families with food allergies, as one in three parents report their children with life-threatening food allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on the holiday, according to a new study by Mylan Specialty. I don’t know about you, but one in three is too high for me. It’s scary and makes me worried that my kiddo will have a reaction, too.
If there are children with food allergies in your child’s class, consider sending non-food treat options (stickers, pencils, etc.) or one of a handful of “safe” candies, such as Smarties, Dum Dums, DOTS or fruit snacks.
If your children have food allergies, how can you prepare and help your kids have safe fun? Here are a few ideas:
Talk to your kids and their teachers. Children should know what foods they are allergic to (many don’t, surprisingly). Have a plan going into the holiday – can your kid eat treats at their class party? Do they need to bring treats home to be checked by you first? Do you have safe treats you can send along for the day of the party so they don’t feel left out? Make sure you, your child and their teachers are all on the same page.
Recognize symptoms. Ask everyone to be on heightened alert for any signs of a food allergy reaction, which may include trouble breathing, coughing, itchy lips or tongue, hives (red splotches), faintness, nausea or vomiting, to name a few.
Be prepared for an emergency. Remember that epinephrine is a life-saving medication. The reason we are allowed to carry them around is so that we can USE THEM in an emergency. Don’t wait it out, don’t wait for the paramedics or drive your child to the hospital. If symptoms are severe (as dictated by your allergy action plan) – first give epi (such as an EpiPen) and THEN call 911. Talk to your child’s allergist if you have questions or fears about this. Remind your child’s teachers about the EpiPen and that you will never be mad if they use it. It could save your child’s life.
Have fun activities and treats ready for your child. If it’s possible, try to have some non-food activities for your children to celebrate the holiday. Make paper hearts to hang on your windows or write love poems to each other (Roses are red, violets are blue…). Seek out some special treats for the occasion that are safe for your child (my kids love the pink heart Jet-Puffed marshmallows we see on the shelves this time of year and the dairy, nut & egg-free chocolates from Divvies.
How does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you have any non-food traditions to share?
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
Disclosures: I recently participated in a blogger outreach event hosted by Mylan Specialty. I am not paid to mention them or write about this study in any way. The folks at Divvies sent me some of their Valentine’s treats as a gift. I’m grateful and so are my kids – we really like this company and have spent a lot of money buying their yummy chocolate chip cookies over the years.
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