One of my sons, has Celiac Disease, he has extreme reactions to small amounts of gluten (found in many grains like wheat, rye, and barley and processed foods). He has another food allergy, too. Bonus: he’s 2 years old, so he constantly puts things is his mouth. Before having a child with Celiac, I don’t think I ever considered how hard it can be for a child with allergies or reactive diseases to play with other children. I never realized how isolating it can be, and how having food EVERYWHERE all the time makes the whole world full of land mines for kids like mine.
Now of course, I have super terminator vision, I’m on constant high alert jumping in front of crumb land mines and saving him from as many allergen contamination bouts of sickness as I can. However, I must say, we aren’t the easiest guests to have over, and once people get wind of how restricted his diet is, how often he gets sick from cross contamination, and how many trips to the hospital this little guy has had they become a little scared to have my family over. (Although I must say, I also have some AMAZING friends who really go above and beyond, I am eternally grateful)
For all of you who are hesitant to have an allergic or kid with special medical needs over, I get it, I do. Sometimes I’m scared too, but I also REALLY don’t want my sons disease to define him. I hope he has great friendships, builds forts, plays ball, and travels the world. I really don’t want him to sit at home alone because he’s too much trouble. I don’t want that for any kid.
So here are a few things to make having an allergy friendly play date easier:
- Talk to the parents: Lets talk about what my kid needs. I’ll let you know what he can and can’t have. I also won’t be offended or think you are silly no matter what you ask.
- Snacks: I’ll probably ask to bring snacks, or let you know what he can eat, but remember kids are really hard to keep from grabbing each others food so if you’d keep what he’s allergic to away I’d be really really grateful. Also cross-contamination from kitchen equipment is a huge problem for allergic kids so if you are providing snacks you’ll want to go with lower risk snacks, especially ones that don’t need to be cut or pre-packaged snacks.
- Keep wet wipes on the counter or kitchen table for easy access to wash little hands and surfaces.
- Wipe down counters, sinks and tables with antibacterial soap. Vacuum/mop especially in high food areas.
- Wipe down favorite toys that will be played with, also video game controllers, tablets, and TV remotes with separate wipes.
- Consider the toys, and ask me if you are unsure. Certain toys can’t be played with by kids with allergies including playdough, some paints, some brands of gak or clay, things that get under your fingernails are common culprits. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you.
- Make sure everyone washes his hands before and after snacks and meals.
- Please don’t be offended if I wipe or clean something!
Does this make you feel a little overwhelmed? I’d also love to have you at my house! Feel free to let me know that’s more comfortable for you, I’d love to have you over and I bet the mom of the allergic kid you know feels the same way!
Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much. I knew you’d understand, moms are the best.