Since kids are often diagnosed with allergies when they’re very young, they need age-appropriate help learning the foods they have to avoid and why.
After 8-year-old Andrew Bimm was diagnosed with peanut, tree nut, and kiwifruit allergies at age 1, his parents began telling him that he could eat only the foods they gave him, or he could get sick. Even as a toddler, he went along to the store with his parents and they showed him which foods were and weren’t safe to eat. As he started school and became more aware of his allergies, he began feeling anxious about them. “The best thing was talking to older kids in the same situation,” says his mom, Marnie. “Andrew felt more relaxed after talking with a seventh-grade boy, who helped him understand how to protect himself by reading food labels.”
As kids get older, they often become more comfortable dealing with their allergies, and can do so more independently than younger kids.
Danielle Breach watches her 11-year-old son, Drew, read labels at home without having to remind him—and has come to trust him to know exactly what he can and can’t eat when he’s with friends or at sleepovers. “His ability to be responsible and take initiative at home allows me to know that he’ll do the same when he’s not home,” she says. “Still, other parents get nervous. So I give him index cards with a list of his allergens and his doctor’s contact information, just in case he does have a reaction.”