Mother of two, Stephanie Gatewood, 43, from Virginia, US, knows only too well how stressful food allergies can be. Both of her children suffer with severe peanut allergies. She has a blog called Peanut Free Parenting and has written a book called When Peanuts are Poison.
Speaking about how her children’s severe peanut allergies affected family life, Stephanie says that the situation was hard to come to terms with at first.
“My husband and I were scared and we felt lost. The responsibility of keeping a toddler safe from something as innocuous as food was overwhelming.
“With time and education, we feel much more confident in our ability to keep the kids safe, but we still have niggling fears when they’re in the care of others.”
Education is the Best Defence
To help keep her young children safe, Stephanie taught them about their allergies so they had a better understanding of the risks.
“The best defence against food allergies is educating your child so they know how to advocate for themselves and will say ‘no, thanks’ to food that is offered to them. Make sure they are always supplied with their own, safe food that they enjoy, which will better enable them to avoid temptation.
“I showed my son how to check ingredients and constantly remind him that only Mummy or Daddy can give him food. I explained that he had a peanut allergy and if he ate the wrong food, he would get itchy, throw up and feel terrible.”
If you have children with life-threatening allergies, take the necessary precautions at all times to ensure their safety.
“Make sure your children avoid eating the allergen. This is best accomplished through reading food package labels and teaching your child how to do this. If you have any doubt about whether a food is safe for your child, do not give it to them.
“Always ensure your child is no more than a two-minute round trip from his epinephrine auto-injector and that he’s always in the care of an adult who knows the symptoms of anaphylaxis, can inject him with epinephrine, and can call for an ambulance.”
Medical ID is Essential
Encouraging your child to wear medical ID will help ensure your child’s safety and also give you peace of mind.
“I think it’s important that all children with a severe medical condition, such as food allergies, wear a medical ID, either on their shoes or even better as a bracelet or necklace.
“Having your child wear a medical ID bracelet serves as a great reminder to everyone that your child has food allergies. It also affirms to others the seriousness of food allergies and that they are indeed a severe medical condition.”
This piece was sponsored by The ID Band Company, who supply a fantastic range of emergency ID jewellery for children and adults with allergies and other medical conditions. Worldwide delivery available.
If you have any concerns for your child regarding allergies please consult your GP.