Daycares and schools often have rules and regulations to help keep all kids safe from food allergies and intolerances. Some parents may be very good about communicating with other adults about their children’s dietary restrictions and concerns. However, when it comes to hosting a party for your own child, whether it’s a sleepover or other event, things can get more complicated.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you navigate a kid’s party with guests who have food allergies or intolerances:
- Book a venue instead of hosting a kid’s party in your home. This option is especially helpful if you have multiple children who have different allergies. Many kid-friendly venues are familiar with catering to kids with special dietary needs, whether it’s providing gluten-free pizza or serving food made in a nut-free facility.
- Reach out to the parents of the kids on your guest list. Ask them about food allergies or intolerances. Many parents are willing to send food along for their child to eat or offer suggestions on what you can prepare in advance. If much of your guest list includes the same allergy or intolerances, consider offering treats that fit within those parameters. For example, suppose several of the kids are sugar (sucrose) intolerant. You can make sugar-free cupcakes for everyone to enjoy, and the kids won’t even notice the difference.
- Keep foods for allergy sufferers clearly separate from the other foods on a buffet line. Many parents may offer to provide special snacks and treats for their little one. It’s okay to take them up on their offer; just be sure to mark those “safe” food clearly. For example, if some of the kids have celiac disease, they have an allergy to gluten. You can set up a fun-looking “gluten-free zone” with gluten-free treats that are found at most grocery stores.
- Ask parents to make sure their child brings an EpiPen along and have them show you how to use it. Also, be sure to ask about emergency contact information and what they would like you to do “just in case.”
- Talk to your child as well as your young guests to make sure they know which foods are safe to eat and which foods should be avoided while they are under your care.
By following these tips, you can better ensure the safety of kids in your care. Remember that communication is key. Some parents are so concerned about food allergies and intolerances, they avoid hosting kids with food allergies, but that can leave a child feeling left out and isolated.
For more information and resources, visit Food Allergy Resource Education (FARE)