Keeping the Park Safe for Kids with Food Allergies

I want to be the first to raise my hand and admit I thought very little about kids with food allergies, or inclusivity of the food allergy community, before I was thrown into it myself. But I’ve been humbled, on several occasions, by the efforts of others to safely include my son. By the thoughtful questions of my family, friends, and community.

These questions are never anything earth-shattering, just small ways to make sure my son is safe and that I don’t have to say no— again.

Even though he’s only 18 months old, we have had to say no a lot. And impose restrictions due to his allergies. I know that there are plenty of people who’d be allies if they just knew how to do it. So here’s an opportunity to keep kids with food allergies included! 

2 Simple Tips for Keeping Playgrounds Safe

  1. Don’t let kids eat on playground equipment. Keep the food at a table.
  2. If your child is eating goopy food or all covered in milk, peanut butter, or another common allergen, clean their hands and face before letting them play. 
It’s really that simple. 

I’m in a few allergy parent groups online and the playground comes up a lot. We don’t want our kids to live in a bubble. We want them to be able to go play and come back messy while we watch. Most of us don’t want to always be the helicopter parent we swore we’d never be. But we do recognize we’re the gatekeeper of safety until our kids are old enough, and hopefully confident enough, to be that for themselves. 

Being Inclusive

I want to share a quick story because I’m really proud of this little guy. We went on vacation with my family this summer. It was the first time most of them physically interacted with my son.

Upon arrival, my husband and I had a brief, low-key, conversation about kids with food allergies with my nephew who is almost five. Basically, “Do you know anyone with allergies? Great, this just like your friend from daycare. If Laszlo wants food that you have, just come talk to one of us.” I actually forgot that it had happened. Four days later, totally unsolicited, he does come to talk to us like it’s the most natural thing in the world. And I got to say yes!

Telling this story still chokes me up for several reasons. First, I’m so happy my son has such a supportive family — unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Second, it shows how easy it can be to support allergy families. Third, the kids are alright. 

There are lots of small actions, just like this, allergy parents are so grateful for. Life as an allergy parent is so exhausting and includes a lot of heart wrenching no’s. Whenever someone cares enough to learn how to take away just one no, it goes a long way.  

What tips would you add for supporting families and kids with food allergies? 

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Calli came to Fargo/Moorhead to attend Concordia College and loved the area so much she never left. Her and her college sweetheart, Andrew, married in 2016 and welcomed their first child, Laszlo, into the world January of 2020. She feels as though she's spent her entire adult life preparing to be a parent and is excited to finally start that journey. Calli is excited to share her experience as a mother and also her passion for our community. She believes it's important to cultivate and support the type of place you want to live in order for that place to be a reality. For her, that means volunteering with Hope Blooms, supporting local music, events, and businesses, and spreading the word about how great our community is. In her personal time, Calli loves walking her two West Highland White Terriers, F. Scott and Zelda, dreaming up a new craft or home improvement project, playing banjo, and just hanging out at home enjoying her family.

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