Why I avoided birthday parties because of my allergy child
I have great friends who happen to also have kids the same age as mine, and so when we’re invited to a birthday party, as much as it’s hard work being surrounded by toddlers high on excitement, sugar and running around at the speed of light, I like going as I get to see my friends and my kids get to see theirs.
But what makes birthday parties so different for me is knowing that there will be food at the party that could Kill my daughter and it will be all around her. Even a tiny trace of the food can cause the type of reaction that can kill her. Most of the people at the party are completely unaware of this while I am watching over my daughter making sure she is OK as best I can.
The lead up to the party still gives me a heavy feeling of dread, which makes me not want to go. I’ve declined invites because of it in the past, because when you have birthday cake, biscuits, and cheese sandwiches in the hands of toddlers who have their hands covered whilst trying to keep my 2 kids under 2 away from them, making sure they don't touch anything is enough to stress anyone out!
I worry about how the party will be set up, when and how will food be served and how I can keep Eva safe and kept away from it. I also think about the prep I need to do in advance of the party. I need to speak to the host about Eva’s allergies. I need to bake my own cake to take for Eva so that she’s not left out. I also have to contact the venue to ensure that they are able to cater for Eva, and if they can’t, I make her sandwiches and take those with us. It’s exhausting always having to be on alert and trying to constantly educate and explain Eva’s allergies.
It’s sometimes hard for people to understand and can think I’m being over-protective and too careful. I work hard at making sure I get the right balance between allowing Eva as much of a normal social life as possible whilst making sure she is safe. Sometimes that means leaving a party early if it feels unsafe or not going at all when the risk feels too high.
Friends have asked how they could make their party safe for my daughter. I’ve felt like in the past I didn’t want to cause any extra work for the host and often said it’s OK I’ll bring my own food.
However, I do have a few simple tips that could help if you are hosting a party and one or more of your guests has severe life-threatening food allergies.
1. Find out what the allergies are and ask for suggestions on safe foods you could provide.
2. Let your guests know there will be a child coming who has life threatening allergies and ask that they can wash their hands after eating.
3. If providing your own food, keep labels so the parent can check if the food is safe.
4. Keep safe foods away and in separate containers to unsafe foods so they don’t get contaminated.
5. Keep unsafe food out of the guests’ party bag or ask for an alternative treat if giving out treat bags.