Birthday parties and other celebrations, like Easter or end of year parties, are huge events for children. Often, food plays a key role in these festivities. For children with food allergies, however, parties can pose an extra challenge. It is essential that they don’t feel excluded and can take part in the fun. Children with food allergies often feel like they miss out on a day-to-day basis and this feeling of exclusion can really hit home in social gatherings where food is central. With the tips and ideas included in this article, you can help to make sure your little one with food allergies doesn’t miss out on any of the fun.
If you are hosting the party yourself, there are lots of allergen free treats you can prepare. It is usually easier to prepare all the food for your child’s party completely allergen free. Your child will love that they can eat everything on offer! Keep recipes simple and add flavour using herbs and spices. Think about including carrot and celery sticks with allergen free dips, fruit kebabs (made with sliced fruit), jelly cups or allergen free corn chips and crackers. There are many allergen free recipes available online and a quick online search can bring up a whole list of different cake or savoury recipe ideas that will be suitable for your child.
There are also a great range of pre-prepared allergen free products available in supermarkets. These include things like dairy free chocolate, dairy, wheat and egg free cookies or frozen gluten free pies and sausage rolls. Remember to always check the ingredient list on the label of all packaged foods to make sure they are suitable for your child. Many supermarkets now also stock allergen free cake and biscuit mixes, for example gluten free or gluten, egg and dairy free. These can be found in either the health food aisle or in the baking aisle, with the regular cake mixes.
If your child is attending a friend’s party, this can require a little forward planning. It is helpful to get in touch with the host before the party to let them know about your child’s food allergy. If your child needs medications (like an adrenaline auto-injector) then they must have this with them at all times1. If they do not have their medication with them, then they should not eat. If you are dropping off your child it is important to check with the host if they are happy to take responsibility for administering this medication. If they are, also provide them with your child’s Action Plan for Anaphylaxis from their doctor.
When attending a friend’s party, it is usually worth taking along some allergen free food that will be suitable for your child. It can be tricky to explain to the host how to read food labels and prepare allergen free foods. Also, you don’t want to burden them with extra work. It can be nice to take along enough food to share with the whole party. This way your child will be able to share some of the food or meal with everyone.
Once you arrive at the party you can also look at the food on offer and check how it has been prepared. There may be some foods at the party that are allergen free. If you are confident that these foods are appropriate for your child, then they can eat these foods also. If not, then they should only have the treats you brought along.
It can be tricky to find the right balance between being overly cautious and being safe when your child has food allergies. If you are prepared, however, then times of celebration can be fun for everyone.
- Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. 2016. Eating out with food allergies. Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. Viewed 20 July 2016. https://www.allergyfacts.org.au/living-with-the-risk/the-basics/out-and-about