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Helping Toddlers Understand Food Allergies

by T Akery | September 19th, 2012 | Infants/Toddlers

Allergies are a problem in many kids. While they might outgrow some of their allergies, some of them stick around well into adulthood. It can be hard to convey the need to stay away from certain things for toddlers. It takes a lot of vigilance and lot of repetition to get toddlers to understand what they can eat and what they can’t eat in regards to their specific allergies.

As parents, our fundamental task is vigilance when it comes to food allergies. So when you suspect your child does have a food allergy, then you need to find out the extent of their particular sensitivity. This requires a trip to the pediatrician and allergy testing.

Once you have determined their allergies, it is time to begin introducing them to the no-no foods. At this age, you want to keep the concept pretty simple. No-no foods are ones that make you sick.

Couple that discussion with pictures so that your toddler can recognize different forms of the food. For example, if your child is allergic to peanuts, show them pictures of both nuts and peanut butter. Show food that is both whole and chopped up. It is important that your toddler visually recognizes food that they shouldn’t eat so they can avoid it. While this is not always possible with things like cooking oil, they should be able to recognize the things they can see.

Teach them to always ask you first especially when they are given food by friends or strangers, even if it is candy. This is a preventive measure in case someone is not aware of your toddler’s allergies. Act out this type of scene so your toddler knows exactly what to say when placed in that situation. It helps if you recruit a few kids their own age to help with this role-playing; that way they can practice on their own peers.

Walk them through what happens when they have an allergic reaction. Although they might have already experienced it, it is crucial for them to understand those first signs so they can get help immediately. Always make sure they know the location of their Epi-pen if they carry one.

Make sure they wear their medical ID bracelet. This way, information is relayed when your toddler can’t speak.

Your toddler should be aware of what their food allergies are. Part of avoidance is knowing what not to eat. If your toddler can recognize the foods, ask before eating things, and know the signs of their reaction, then your toddler can aid you in the process of helping them to avoid foods that trigger a reaction.

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