Talking Allergies

The dreaded B-day party...
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Author:  kdufour [ Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:08 am ]
Post subject:  The dreaded B-day party...

My little girl has been invited to attend (with us) the b-day dinner of our friend's baby boy who will be turning 1 soon. My DH and I have been debating if we should go or not. Everything is going so well right now, the new daycare is great and very safe for her, we are planning her 1st B-day party this weekend at home with only food she can eat so we won't worry and will be able to enjoy it, she is happy and healthy and allergy free, and we would like to keep it that way!

The problem is, I don't want to miss out on seeing friends and celebrating with them, but one of her reactions happened exactly in that context (dinner at friends with young kids), so it's a scary though for us to bring her in that type of environment again. We would bring her dinner and everything, but at that age, it's hard to keep them in your arms all the time, and they put their hands and mouth on everything!!!

Would you go, or not?

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:22 am ]
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I probably would, provided I was taking her food. But it's all about your own comfort zone, and whether you feel ready for that if you and your h. experienced a reaction at party in past.

If you decide to go, I'd let the hostess know of your concerns and that you'll have to watch the baby like a hawk. If she gets why, she can help to make sure other kids aren't touching the baby without washing up, and that any unsafe foods are out of baby's reach.

But I also wouldn't beat myself up if you decide not to go. You'll do these things once you feel ready to again.

Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:28 pm ]
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I don't take my girls to parties where their allergens will be served. It is VERY risky. No matter how careful you are with your own child...all the other kids are MESSY and the food gets everywhere. The only other solution we have come up with in the past is to talk with the hostess and have the food served at the end of the party after games, presents and the fun stuff. Then we leave before the food is put out.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:14 pm ]
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If it is just the grandparents and your family, I'd go. We did thiswith our daughter when she was a year old.
If it is a fullblown party with 6-8 children games etc, I would pass.
What ever you do know that eventually you will have to allow her to go to a birthday party again and concider what happened the last time. Was any of it avoidable and what precautions would you take next time?

Author:  boys' mom [ Sat Oct 20, 2007 7:51 pm ]
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At your stage I probably wouldn't go. If you'll be watching your child like a hawk you won't have any time to socialize with your friends anyway - it is very stressful. My kids are older now and we still watch them like a hawk (my husband and I tag team). However, my kids would not eat or touch anything without asking one of us first. And we bring their own food and hand wipes everytime we go. I feel that you can never really "relax" when you go to a party.

Author:  cdnmama [ Sat Oct 20, 2007 10:41 pm ]
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We recently took ds to his friend's birthday party. I'm close friends with the birthday girl's mother, so called her to discuss what she would be serving for dinner. Thankfully, she is very understanding about ds's allergies, and most of the time she gets it. But I don't expect any guarantees either. When she asked if she could prepare something for ds to eat, I explained that it was more comfortable and safe for us to bring food from home, including birthday cake for ds, me, and hubby to share.

Since our son is nearly 2-1/2, we took the opportunity to talk to him about how there would be food at the party that would be unsafe for him, because he is allergic to it (we have an ongoing dialogue about his allergens and what allergic means). But we also tried to balance this with exciting talk of getting to play with other children.

To my friend's credit, she was kind enough to ask her guests not to offer any food to ds, due to his allergies. She tactfully did so while making introductions.

Even with all our prep and the help of my wonderful friend, it was VERY stressful, and I can't say for sure that we'd do it again any time soon. We may adopt a plan similar to saskmommyof2's where we don't partake in the food parts of the event. The things I found the hardest were trying to keep ds away from the b-day girl's highchair while she was being presented with her cake and all the other children were invited to gather round; and then having to keep ds with us at the "big people's" table while the other children sat nearby at a small table. He is old enough to know he's missing out, and kept leaning over to try and interact with them... this almost did me in. :cry:

This is definitely one of those times when we parents of food-allergic children need to go with our instincts about the safety of a given situation, and leave early if need be. It's hard to find a balance sometimes in protecting our little ones, but I guess that's just part of parenting in general!

Sorry for the rambling. Hopefully this helps a bit.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:10 am ]
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Oh Marla, I find our little man is at the hardest age. His need to be independant and socialize is way ahead of his ability to understanding of food allergies and children at this age rarely practice self-restraint.

You are doing a great job in talking with your son. Mny people think small children don't understand but they understand more than we give them credit for. Keep talking to him.
Use flyers to help him recognize foods he is allergic to. Cut and paste activities (supervised) are great at this age to strengthen hands.

It does get easier! Your friend sounds very supportive. I hope that her child and yours stay friends for many years to come. It is a great help having friends who get it.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:21 pm ]
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Sunday afternoon I was sitting at a birthday party thinking of this thread and all of you parents out there.
Our daughter was invited to a birthday party at the local YMCA. We had not experienced one at this venue. My husband contacted the Y and inquired about the routine. Not much information was given. One hour of play time and one hour of party room time. Which comes first was at the discretion of the parents.
I contacted the mother, advised her that our daughter was looking forward to the party but that as she has multiple food allergies I needed to get clairification of a few details. I inquired about the schedule of events. She assured me that the hour of play time would come first followed by pizza and cake. I asked if it would be alright if I stayed and she said that would be fine. I told her that I would bring a safe pizza and cupcake for my daughter.
Fast forward to Sunday. We arrive and all goes well. 20 minutes into the event the kids are having a blast in the gym playing games with the instructors. The mother comes up to me and informs me that she is a teacher and has had training with the Epi-Pen. She tells me that it would be OK if I wanted to leave and do some shopping. (Maybe it was because I was somewhat alouf. I was siting in the gym watching the kids. I have the flu and this was as much as I was able to do.) I declined as my daughter is still the type that wants me around and I'm just not at that point yet.
After the play time, we go in for pizza. Now, I never let my daughter go to school on pizza days but I like to think I can manage 10-15 kids eating pizza. I set her up at one end of the table (all arranged with the mother in advance). The children immediately around her are the little cousins of the birthday girl and they are too wound up to eat. They eat just enough to get their hands good and greasy and start tossing and kicking a (big) ball right behind my daughter. I was sitting there trying to decide if I should leave with dd or stay. I kept hoping that they would quickly move on to the cake.
Finally, they move on to the cake but not before the grandmother graciously hands out napkins and places one right on top of the clean one that I had obtained at the beginning for dd. (yep, she'd been eating the pizza too :roll: ).
OK, good, pizza is cleared away and the cake is presented with much oohing and ahhing (while I hunker in the corner icing dd's cupcake). The Birthday Girl, who knows dd from daycare, places a cheesy hand on dd's head and announces that she is not to have any cake because of her allergies. Isn't that sweet? Thankfully, dd hasn't washed her hair in a week and the natural oils have created a barrier from the allergens :wink:.
So all of the children are happy with their cake and I can relax and hey, even have a small piece myself until...the Birthday Girl jamms a fork into dd's cupcake. So I ask dd, where did she get the fork? From the Birthday Girl. Had Birthday Girl been eating the pizza? Yes. Had she washed her hands? No. Did dd feel that she should eat the cupcake? No. :cry:
So, next birthday party, I bring our own forks, too.
I am very proud of my daughter for being mature enough to allow me to remove her cupcake.
Another mom came over and talked to dd about her allergies to animals and how they stop her from doing some things like owning pets but that she tries to think of all of the things she can do. I could tell that she felt bad about the cupcake but we all knew that the Birthday Girl was just trying to be a good hostess.
Afterward that kids went back for more games and the mother ensured that they washed thier hands first.
I thanked her for that.
Was I glad that we went to the birthday party? It was very anxiety provoking and dd was disappointed about the cupcake but, a few people came away with a better understanding of what children with food allergies have to deal with, dd learned a valuable lesson about concidering when things can become contaminated, I got to see a mature side to my daughter that I would not have thought possible and I added one more thing to my Birthday Party Checklist.

Author:  cdnmama [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:59 pm ]
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Good for you to take your daughter to the birthday party! Overall, it sounds like it was nice for her, and good for you to see, as you said, a mature side to your daughter. I will also keep the utensils thing in mind. Good one.

And a belated thanks for the cut & paste idea to use with ds to teach him about his allergens!


Author:  Julie [ Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:29 pm ]
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I have a "dreaded birthday party" story to share as well... all is well, and my son came away without having an allergic reaction, but talk about STRESSFUL! We usually try to go to most birthday parties, and there are lots of them (we have 11 young nieces and nephews, and good friends kids parties), but what I failed to realise about this last situation is that this was a SCHOOL party - with people who really don't know about my son's allergies. With family and friends, they KNOW about his food allergies. I really thought it wouldn't be difficult to manage this school party (he's been to other school parties, but none like this one), but I was not as well prepared as I thought! I had informed the birthday boy's mother that my son had a lot of food allergies and I would be bringing all of his food. I inquired about the menu, and was told it would be pizza and cupcakes. It was held at an indoor playground.

Well, as it turns out, the birthday boy's extended family was there as well.. grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins... plus the owners of the indoor playground. Well, all these other adults did not know ANYTHING about his food allergies! They were trying to serve him pizza, potato chips, fruit from a fruit tray, mango juice - all of which he can not eat or drink! I was freaking out because it was always someone different trying to serve him food! And the same thing happened when it came time to serve the cake! And, my son's hands were everywhere... I must have gone through about 10 wipes (or more) trying to keep up with his wandering hands.

Talk about stressful. There is no way I would consider leaving my son alone at a birthday party. I don't know when the day will come that I would feel comfortable with that - maybe when he's 15 :wink:

Author:  kdufour [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:11 am ]
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Thanks for sharing all your stories! Sometimes, my mother-in-law thinks I overreact about contamination when we're around a lot of people, but whatever it takes to keep my baby safe, I'll do. You gave me a few good tips, like bring my own wipes and utensils! We have this "kid" X-mas party at my office with about 30 kids under 5. I'm in touch with the organisers, and I'll ask them if it's possible to setup a "no-food" zone, so I can safely put my little girl down, so she can play and enjoy the party! I'll bring her snacks, but I know there will be more food and candies passed around, like last year... and kids are messy!!! ;)

Author:  ethansmom [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:26 pm ]
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Susan, good for you for sticking it out at the party. That's a hard one -- but I think you're right about coming away with even more knowledge when you do. It brings up things you hadn't thought of before (like the utensils), you get to see how capable your child is in managing their own allergy and it's also a great teaching aid to further educate them on different scenarios (like the cross-contam. issue and the fork). You've made me aware of bringing two cupcakes to all parties in case something happens to cupcake #1 -- thanks! I also wanted to mention, don't forget the "candle licking" tradition that happens at b-day parties. Oftentimes kids like to take the blown-out candles and re-stick them into their pieces of cake, etc. (after licking them and being in allergen filled cakes, etc.).

Well, all these other adults did not know ANYTHING about his food allergies! They were trying to serve him pizza, potato chips, fruit from a fruit tray, mango juice - all of which he can not eat or drink!

Julie -- given your son is avoiding so many foods, and for unexpected scenarios like this one, maybe one of the "allergy aware" t-shirts might be helpful?

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:45 pm ]
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Susan, I bet that was a learning experience all round.

I just hope they get less stressful over time. :roll: (I'd need a drink by the time I got home - and I don't drink!)

Your daughter was a trooper, though. Cupcakes are pretty darn hard to resist.

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