Having Your Child's Food-Allergic Friend Over To Play: A Guide For Parents

If your own child does not have food allergies, you're probably not too familiar with how these allergies must be handled. Thus, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to have your child's food-allergic friend over to play. Follow these tips to ensure the play date goes smoothly and safely.

Get a written allergy list from the child's parent well in advance of the play date.

Some children are allergic to just one food, while others are allergic to several. To ensure you know the full scope of the child's allergies, ask the parents for a written list of the child's allergies. Then, plan the meals and snacks you'll be serving the children while the visiting child is over, ensuring that you avoid the allergic foods. Read ingredient labels to be sure prepared foods are not hiding the allergy-triggering ingredients.

During the visit, do not give your own child something that the visiting child is allergic to, either. You would not want the allergic child to unknowingly take a bite. 

Verify food choices with the child's parent prior to giving them to the child.

After you have a plan for meals and snacks, check in with the child's parent to ensure they're okay to serve.  This one extra precaution only takes a minute and ensures you did not overlook anything.

Keep threatening foods out of reach.

Stash foods that blatantly contain the allergy-triggering ingredient in a safe spot, so the kids can't accidentally get a hold of them. For instance, if the visiting child is allergic to peanut butter, take the peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, and similar snacks out of your cupboard and hide them in the back of your personal clothing closet or another area where the kids won't look.

Know the signs of an allergic reaction and how to react.

Just in case the child does have an allergic episode while under your care, make sure you know the signs of an allergic reaction, which include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling in the face, eyes, or tongue
  • Sudden cough
  • Chest tightness

If the child begins showing signs of an allergic reaction, you'll need to administer an emergency epinephrine injection. (Children with known allergies should have one with them at all times. The child's parent should send one with him or her to your house.) Follow the instructions on the emergency injection to administer it through the child's thigh. Then, call emergency services and the child's parents.

If you have any other questions about how to deal with a visiting child's food allergies, talk to their parents or a food allergy professional like Alidina Laila MD. Most parents of allergic children are very cautious regarding their children's allergies and will give you all of the information you need.