Select Page

Have you ever brought your child with food allergies to a birthday party? You’re anxious, you’re going through everything twenty times in your brain – did I contact the host? Did I bring medications? Did I bring something for my child to eat? Am I forgetting something?

Then you actually arrive at the party where you are so anxious you can’t even carry on a basic conversation with anyone there. You’re too busy hovering around your poor child to enjoy anything. And just when you feel the slightest bit of relaxation, out comes the food! Then a whole new set of emotions grabs you. Your child is alone by your side while all of his friends are eating pizza, cake, or ice cream. The look of pure sadness on his face.

Birthday parties can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be like that at all! Here are some great ways to make birthday parties (or any other special events) just as fun and exciting for your child even though he or she has food allergies.

  1. Talk to the host of the party. What food will be served? How will it be served? That way you can formulate a game plan and determine what your child can and cannot eat beforehand. Keep in mind, it’s not the hosts job to watch out for your kiddo’s allergies. They will be too busy looking after the party.
  1. Know before you go if you need to pack not only a safe snack but a safe meal. For example if you know the kids are having pizza and your child is allergic to dairy you might want to bring a cheeseless piece of pizza or other alternative so they can eat with their friends. Uncrustables were always my son’s go-to if pizza was being served. I highly recommend that YOU eat whatever special foods your kiddo is eating. Imagine eating a food your child can’t eat while he/she is eating their special food… that would make him/her feel super left out.
  1. Try to focus on the non-eating activities instead of the food. Are you going to a jumping park? Talk about how high they are going to bounce! Swimming? Talk about all of the cool things they can play with in the water. Especially if your child’s food allergy is new or very obvious, it’s even more important to focus on the party and, oh yeah, there will be a little food there too.
  1. If your child is very young and you are nervous about them accidentally getting into someone else’s food consider arriving after the food portion of the party is over to avoid any accidental contaminations.
  1. Be careful when eating anything from bakeries or ice cream shops
    1. Typically in these locations they use shared scoops or other machinery and cross contact is a scary possibility.
  1. If possible be sure that everyone knows about your child’s food allergy. A lot of times with smaller kids they will share food with each other without you even knowing. It’s safest if everyone is on the same page.
  1. Along with that, ensure you have constant eyes on your child when unsafe foods are being consumed near them. You never know when a child is going to lean in for a hug or kiss with an unsafe food on them that might cause your child to have a reaction.
  1. Another thing you can do is Take a little extra time and set up a spot on the table that contains only safe food. Once this spot has been designated, take your child over to the table and say, “you can eat anything in this area. Everything else in the house is off-limits.”
  1. Give your child a prep talk before the party
    1. Keep it simple and short, kids just need the essential information. Try something like this: “Today you are going to Cody’s birthday party! What are you excited to play with? At the birthday party, there might be some food that is not safe for you to eat because it has (insert allergen). I’ve packed you safe food and a special treat in your lunchbox to eat at the party. Please don’t eat any other food except what I’ve packed you.”
    2. Your main goal in talking with them is to make sure they know what they can and cannot eat
  1. Make sure your child knows all goodie bag contents, prizes and pinata candy need to be checked by YOU before they handle the candy.
  1. Try to relax. I know it’s difficult to be calm and actually breathe when your child is surrounded by life threatening foods but keep this in mind too: You are prepared and have done everything you can to make sure your kiddo is safe. You don’t want your anxieties to dampen the fun for you or your child.