Managing allergies at birthday parties
It's upsetting for children with allergies to be left off the guest list only because the host is worried that managing the allergy sufferer seems too hard or too scary. One parent has said her daughter was upset over being left off the invitation list and asked her mum if she could go in the future, promising she wouldn't eat anything if she did.
Allergy alert - how to include guests with allergies
Managing a child with allergies at a birthday requires just a little planning. Call the parent of the child beforehand, if you are already aware of the allergy, and ask what steps are needed to keep the child safe. Most likely he or she will bring their own food that's safe to eat, and that will most likely include a slice of cake or their own little cupcake.
Tips for making an allergy sufferer and their parents feel welcome at your party
- Ask all parents in advance if their child has any allergies or intolerances to any foods. If there is a child who is an allergy sufferer, ask the parents if they have an allergy-free recipe you might be able to use, or invite them to bring something along that is safe for their child to eat. Consider offering non-edible treats as prizes or in loot bags.
- Ensure the environment is as safe as possible, e.g. if a child has an egg allergy, don't use egg cartons for games or chocolate wrappers in lolly hunts, and don't use eggs if baking. If you're not sure, tell the parents what activities you have planned and they can let you know if anything is potentially dangerous.
- Wipe down any table, chairs and toys the child might come into contact with to remove traces of food - this is especially important for children with anaphylaxis as the smallest trace can set off a life-threatening reaction.
- Ask the parents for a list of what the child must not eat and always check if there is anything you are unsure about.
- Ask the parents to go through a safety plan with you so you know how to recognise and deal with an allergic reaction. Some children may require an adrenaline shot (EpiPen) in the case of a severe reaction or anaphylaxis - decide if you are willing to do this, and ask the parents to show you how to use the EpiPen.
- Ask for a contact phone number of the parents in case of an emergency.
- Talk to your own child about the importance of not sharing food before any little visitors arrive.
- Try not to make the child feel special or different, but instead create activities that allows them to join in.
- Remember, don't be afraid to ask - the child's parents will be grateful if you do!
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