Learning your baby or toddler has a severe allergy is generally a traumatic experience, with the first indication a severe reaction to a newly introduced food. Many families and individuals feel overwhelmed and isolated when first receiving this life altering diagnosis.
Remember, others who know exactly how you feel are just a phone call or email away if you’re a member of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.
Try to find a healthy balance between managing life with a potentially life threatening allergy; being careful without being excessive in trying to prevent a reaction.
Allergic children and all their caregivers (babysitters, schools, coaches, vacation care, etc) need to be educated on how to avoid food allergens and/or other triggers. Remember to teach your child at an age appropriate level, while educating siblings and other family members, too.
Because accidental exposure is a reality, parents, carers and friends all need to be able to recognise the symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared to administer adrenaline, as outlined in the individual’s Action Plan for Anaphylaxis.
Following are some tips for managing situations and activities in the early years:
Playgroup - When you first join a playgroup, let other parents and carers know you have a child at risk of anaphylaxis. Our online shop has posters and brochures that can be useful tools to help introduce the issue and educate those around you.
Suggest safe foods for morning tea and discuss how best to manage playgroup gatherings.
Contact the Playgroup Association for information about allergy friendly playgroups in your area.
Visit the ambulance station - Prepare your child emotionally for the possibility of an ambulance trip to the hospital. Take the time to visit your local ambulance station with your child, giving him or her a chance to hop into an ambulance, become familiar with it and meet the paramedics.
Babysitters - Remind babysitters, grandparents, neighbours and anyone else who looks after your child, to avoid eating or handling the food allergen whenever your child is in their care.
Play – Borrow or buy a toy medical play kit for your child. Acting out doctor and patient routines helps make children comfortable with the idea of visiting doctors and hospital.
Childcare - When a baby with food allergy that has had a previous anaphylaxis is NOT prescribed an adrenaline (epinephrine) injector because they weigh less than 7.5kg, the parent needs to discuss childcare options with the doctor. If the baby's specialist prescribes adrenaline ampoules, needles and syringe for use in an emergency, it is important to note that childcare staff cannot administer adrenaline except in the form of an autoinjector/injector. In this circumstance, the parent/guardian will need to discuss whether the baby at risk of anaphylaxis should attend a childcare service.
Content updated July 2021