Two boys standing Holiday meals are usually elaborate affairs — a lot of delicious entrees, side dishes, appetizers and desserts. Many holiday activities center around food as well — baking cookies, gingerbread men and making gingerbread houses. When your child has a food allergy, it can make the holiday a bit more stressful. You want to be able to offer your child fun and delicious options while still keeping him safe.

Keeping your child safe from food allergies

When it comes to meals, there are a few ways to help keep your child with food allergies happy and safe this holiday. You probably know how to make delicious, allergy-safe meals in your own home, but how about school events or visiting relatives and friends? Here are a few tips to help keep your child safe:

  • When you invite friends and relatives to your home, make sure they are aware of your child’s food restrictions so they don’t bring off-limits items.
  • When visiting other people’s homes, bring treats you know are safe for your child. Make sure your child eats only what you brought or meals you are certain are safe.
  • Don’t travel anywhere without your child’s EpiPen®.
  • Wear your baby in a sling or carrier to prevent well-meaning guests from feeding her food that may be harmful.
  • For younger children, bring a booster seat with a tray if allergens are being served so they don’t accidentally grab an off-limit food item off the table.
  • Remind your child’s teachers about your child's allergies.
  • Take a stash of safe treats to school for times when goodies are being served. 
  • Request that any Secret Santa or Pollyanna gifts be non-food related.

When it comes to holiday fun, here are few safe and non-food related activities you can do with your child:

  • Cardboard “gingerbread’: Use cardboard, glitter, glue and paint to create non-edible gingerbread men and houses.
  • Homemade ornaments: Visit a craft store to get ideas on how to make safe holiday ornaments. Ideas include pictures, popsicle sticks, puzzle pieces, cotton balls and glitter.
  • Stockings: You can make your own stockings out of felt or cloth. Decorate them with glitter or felt shapes.
  • Holiday cards for kids in need: Use construction paper, glitter and foam shapes to make cards. You can bring them to children in hospitals or shelters over the holiday.

Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello, MD

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