As a parent, it can be nerve wracking to send your child out into the world knowing that they have a food allergy. In the U.S. one in 13 children, or roughly two students in every classroom, have a food allergy. If your preschooler is allergic to one or more types of food, it’s critical that you take steps to protect them from a potentially severe reaction.
Here, we’ll go over the basics of food allergies and what you can do to keep your child safe, from providing hypoallergenic formula for young toddlers to speaking with staff and other parents at your preschool.
How do Food Allergies Work?
Your immune system is what helps to protect you from disease by recognizing dangerous viruses and bacteria that enter the bloodstream. For some people, however, everyday foods can trigger a similar immune response, This allergic reaction can lead to symptoms such as facial swelling, hives, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. The most common food-based allergies include:
● Milk and dairy products
● Tree nuts or peanuts
● Fish and shellfish
● Soy products
● Wheat and gluten
Allergies are passed down genetically to a certain degree, so if you have a food allergy, there’s a chance your child might as well. The safest way to test young kids for allergies is by arranging a skin or blood test with an allergist. They’ll be able to tell you everything your child is allergic to without exposing them to dangerous levels.
Educating Others on Allergies
One of the best ways to protect your child against allergic reactions when away from home is by speaking with other adults. You should meet not only with your kid’s preschool teacher, but also any principals, nurses and cafeteria staffers who are responsible for their care. It’s also a good idea to either speak with the parents of other students or send home a note explaining which foods to avoid sending for snack time.
Pack Approved Snacks
When packing snacks or lunch for your child, you should always check the ingredients to make sure that their food doesn’t contain any allergens. If there are others in your kid’s class that have food-based allergies, you should also avoid packing any of these ingredients in your preschooler’s lunchbox. Doing so is especially important when it comes to nuts and peanuts, which can cause a reaction through airborne particles. Young enough children can be given hypoallergenic formula as a safety precaution.
Food allergies are common in young children, and they can pose a serious health risk in more severe cases. It’s important that you educate yourself and others about allergic reactions and what to do in an emergency scenario. You should also be careful to check the ingredients of anything that you offer your child.