My child has a peanut allergy. While this is something that we deal with every day, I am focused on not letting this allergy interfere with her daily life. I am against taking the “bubble kid” approach; she goes to school, takes dancing, plays soccer, goes to the playground and anything else a normal kid does.
Peanuts 101 for Moms Not Familiar With Peanut Allergies
Living with a peanut allergy
I can do everything in my power to control what is in our kitchen and on her plate. I keep a watchful eye and am armed with an epi-pen at any given moment. The hardest part of a food allergy is, of course, relying on others. Have you ever tried to explain to a two year old why they can’t have the Halloween candy everyone else can have?
I understand that it is hard for parents of children without peanut allergies to be totally on board with a peanut-free environment. I get it. I am packing the exact same peanut-free snacks and lunches as they are. But I am also reading every label in the grocery store and giving everyone who cares for her the third degree before I leave.
Yes, it is one of the most common allergies. Peanut allergies are on the rise, and there is no explanation for it. Yes, I wish my daughter did not have a peanut allergy, but the reality is that she does. The challenge with peanut allergies as opposed to other allergies is that people with peanut allergies have a higher chance of going into anaphylactic shock. This means their airway closes up and they can die.
Peanut protein is known for being very stable, which means that it stays intact through cooking and baking. This is also a challenge for transfer. For example, if your child ate a peanut butter sandwich and then played on the monkey bars, a child with a peanut allergy who played on those same monkey bars can pick up the peanut protein and have a reaction. Scary, I know.
How to be supportive of a “peanut family”
Most parents are supportive in a “that sucks for you that your child has an allergy, I will try not send peanuts” kinda way. The people around my daughter do their
best to not have peanut butter or peanut products around her. (Shout out to the other moms in her class at school who are so accommodating!)
But if you are not in the trenches with a peanut allergy, you may not know some of the everyday things that we all encounter that contain peanuts. I would say that the number one item we come across is Chick-Fil-A. Most people don’t know that their food is fried in peanut oil. You would be surprised at how many parties and events we have been to that are serving Chick-Fil-A catering platters.
If you are sending snack or having a party where a peanut kid will be, please read the labels. It only takes one minute, but for the mom of a peanut child to attend a peanut-free event is a true luxury. It means that you can worry just a little less.
Some good snack ideas for peanut allergy kids:fresh fruit, applesauce, Cheez Its, popcorn, cheese cubes, pudding or jello, raisins and Goldfish. Some of our favorite brands also have peanut free processing facilities including GoGoSqueez, Plum Organics, Annie’s and Ella’s Kitchen. All of these are available at Wal-Mart and Target so there is no need for a trip to a specialty store.
Some unexpected places that peanuts are found are:
- Asian and Mexican foods
- Vegetarian foods
- Glazes and marinades
- Pet food
- Potato chips
- Packaged cheese
- Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy and salad dressings
So how would I know if my child was allergic to peanuts?
If you have not tried peanuts with your child, there are pre-indicators of a peanut allergy. If your baby has a family history of hay fever, asthma, food allergies or eczema, she is at a higher risk to have peanut allergies. Peanuts are actually in the same family as peas. So, when my daughter had a reaction to peas as a baby, we knew she was more likely to have a peanut allergy.
Consult a physician if you believe your child may have a peanut allergy. They can be tested in a safe environment. Unfortunately we found out that Annelise had a peanut allergy on accident. She touched peanut butter on my biscuit and rubbed her eye around 1 ½ years old. Within minutes her eye had swollen shut and her face was scaly and puffy.
A peanut allergy is not something that I wish on any family, but I do hope that I can rely on other moms to be supportive of our situation. I have heard horror stories of other moms sending granola bars for snack and children dying in schools from reactions. It is stories like that that make me want to keep her in a bubble. But I know it is better for our family to not let this allergy hold her back.