School’s out and summer camps, vacations, play dates, barbeques and picnics are here. While a lot of fun, these events can be difficult if your child has food allergies.
Do your homework. Plan ahead for activities and camps that your child will be attending. Contact the person in charge of the event as soon as you sign your child up. Tell him or her about your child’s food allergies. Ask about how they handle kids with food allergies. Ask about guidelines for sending food with your child and the availability of refrigerators and freezers.
Great snacks to pack. The best travel and camp foods are nutritious and filling and don’t need refrigeration or utensils. They include:
- Fresh fruit.
- Prepackaged snack foods such as dried fruit, dry cereal, snack mixes, pretzels, cookies, snack bars and peanut butter substitutes.
- Individually packaged foods made in your home like snack mixes, cookies and muffins.
Think the drink. Plan for drinks that are nutritious and allergen free. Make sure your child knows which drinks are allowed while in the care of others.
Summer fun action plan. Prepare an action plan for your child that includes emergency contact information, medication lists and information about his or her doctor. Your child always should wear a medical bracelet, necklace or shoestring charm. Some camps and summer programs will have their own action plans that may need a doctor’s signature before your child attends.
Giving epi. Review directions on how to give epinephrine to your child with the primary caregiver. Ask that person to show you how to give epinephrine and review the action plan. Give him or her a chance to ask questions.
Arrange nonfood activities. Help plan activities such as water balloon fights, outings to the park and quiet afternoons at home watching movies. Arranging activities that don’t include food will help your child avoid feeling left out.
Where to buy? Check out your local specialty grocery store or check out online grocery shopping options here.
Learn more about preparing your food-allergic child for summer camps here.
~ Mary Beth Feuling, MS, RD, CNSD, is a dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Wayne Roe is the executive chef and manager of Nutrition Services at Children’s Hospital.