We have yet another birthday party coming up. I don’t know the parents – or even the child particularly, so we’re instantly on allergy alert.
- MyItchyBoy is now six so we’re entering the phase where most parents drop their kids off for a party. Check with the parents if it is okay for you to stay around if you need to – they may be happy for an extra pair of hands and if you explain then they may be happy for you to stay so you can check any ingredients and be there in case of any problems. It means that they can get on with worrying about the rest of the guests’ needs.
- Let the party host know in advance if your child won’t be eating the catered food so they can give the right numbers to a venue or cook the right amount. It is also a way to give them a heads up for party bags.
- If your child has allergies that will make the party food hard for your child to enjoy then take a packed meal. If you can, ask in advance what sort of food will be provided. If it’s pizza, for example, you might be able to match with a mini ‘safe’ pizza. Make sure you pack a cake equivalent for when the ice cream and/or birthday cake is handed out too.
- Keep a close eye on your child at feeding time as well as other well-meaning adults offering plates of food to your child. Remind your child on the way to the party that they should not accept food from anyone without checking with you first.
- Make sure you check any drinks on offer.
- Take care of cross contamination as parties can be a bit crazy with kids and food everywhere. This is harder when kids are younger and the food is often buffet style.
- Party bags – these often include sweets from a multipack so rarely have details of ingredients in a font size big enough to read or interpret. If you know the party host well there is a chance that they may find an alternative for your child. However, more likely, you’ll need a plan to deal with the excitement of sweets on the way home coupled with the come down of frenzied party excitement. For this purpose, we always keep a small supply of those sugar-loaded sweets at home. We’ve found it’s usually easy enough to swap sweets for safe sweets when we get home (maybe take them with you for less patient kids). For a six year old, a sweet is a sweet is a sweet – thankfully!
- As hard as it is, try not to hover over your child too much, especially as they get older. It’s a party and your child what to have fun with the other children. Food at parties is usually just fuel so they can go and play some more or for the adults to calm the children down for 20 minutes before home time. They don’t talk about the food on the way home, they talk about the party itself.
What are your top tips for keeping your child free from allergies at children’s parties?