As summer winds down, parents and children are preparing for the start of the school year. But for children with food allergies, heading to school for the first time can come with significant stress, anxiety and even danger.
Since the 1990s, food allergies in children have shot up approximately 50%. In fact about one in 13 children (or about two per classroom) have some type of food allergy, making it essential that parents, kids and schools know how to prevent, identify and respond to food allergy reactions.
- Meet with school staff members: Set up meetings with principals, teachers, nurses and cafeteria staff. This ensures that everyone is informed and prepared and allows a parent to understand how a child’s school manages food allergies.
- Create a written plan: Work with an allergist to develop an action plan that outlines all necessary information on your child’s allergy, including how to prevent accidental exposures and how to recognize and treat symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Post pictures: Tape pictures of your child to the classroom wall with information on their allergies to alert anyone that comes into the room. You can also post one on your child’s desk, which can serve as a secondary reminder when snacks are served.
- Make safe snacks: Pack allergen-free snacks for your child in case someone brings in a treat for the class. Send the snacks to school with a label specifying that they are safe, or leave some with their teacher so your child won’t feel left out during classroom celebrations.