With guest author Dr. Amna Husain, pediatrician and food allergy mom
As a pediatrician and food allergy mom, I have learned so much on my journey and feeding my child and protecting her from her food allergy. That being said, I also realize how important it is to educate my own child so she can clearly communicate her allergy to teachers and support staff around her when she starts school. For young children, it’s very important to introduce a few concepts at a time. You can use simple phrases like "This food can make you sick," or use words like “safe food" versus "unsafe food." If you're a food allergy parent like me, perhaps you don’t bring the allergens into the house out of an abundance of caution. You can show your child pictures of the food in books, magazines, or my personal favorite-a trip to the grocery store.
You should teach your child to only eat foods given to them by parents or other trusted adults, like a nanny, babysitter, or teacher. Depending on the age of your child, this is a concept I usually recommend visiting more than once or twice. Reviewing with your child what he or she is allergic to and which foods are okay to eat, and which are not is an incredibly important step for the family when there is a member with food allergies. Teaching your child to advocate for themselves when they have a life-threatening condition like a food allergy is incredibly important.
Refrain from using words like "yucky" or "disgusting" when labeling the food allergy foods. If your child states these terms when around other caregivers, it might relay as picky eating habits instead of a food allergy. Instead, try using appropriate words and terminology and revisiting this concept frequently. Time and education will help your child be able to take more responsibility for his or her safety.