Being a parent is arguably the most important job we will ever come across! We make sure everything in our home is safe for our little bundles of joy to sleep, play, eat and explore. At times it can be stressful and challenging, especially when your child has a food allergy. Safety is often the first thought on any parent’s mind, and food allergies can amplify any safety concern you might have as a parent.
Here are 3 easy tips to sharpen your food allergy safety skills.
Moms Breastfeeding Their Infants:
Great job to all you breastfeeding moms out there! You are providing your baby with the best source of nutrition, and the first choice of healthcare professionals worldwide. When your little one also has a food allergy, then you have likely also taken the extra step to eliminate the foods that your baby is reacting to from your own diet to continue to breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful and intimate time between mom and baby. As is common with all good things, it is also time consuming and a lot of work. So way to go all you moms who have eliminated suspected allergens from your own diet to support your little one!
Tip #1, for Lactating Moms: Make sure to read food labels closely. There are often “hidden” ingredients that contain the allergens you are trying to avoid. Let’s look at cow milk for example, the most common food allergen for little ones. If you are following an elimination diet to remove milk due to a cow milk allergy, then ingredients such as casein or whey will also need to be avoided. Be sure to look at ingredients for all items you consume including any vitamin or mineral supplements, or medications which may also contain ingredients from the allergens you are trying to avoid.
Parents Using Neocate Formula:
Perhaps breastfeeding was not an option for your family, or you were unable to continue to breastfeed your infant for one reason or another. Cheers to all you hard working parents who use Neocate to provide your baby with the nutrition your little one with food allergies needs to grow, develop and thrive when breastfeeding is not an option.
Food safety is always important when preparing food for your family, and the same care must be taken when preparing formula for your child. This can be especially true if your little one has any digestive conditions, is not gaining weight as expected, or struggling with an illness.
Tip #2, for Families Using Neocate: Follow all safety and sanitation recommendations when preparing Neocate. Make sure to sanitize all bottles and nipples as directed by your healthcare team. Keep surfaces clean and use good hand washing techniques – a must when preparing any formula to ensure your little one with food allergies consumes formula that has been safely prepared.
Many parents call us to inquire about our recommendation to use sterile water. While it is ultimately up to your healthcare team to determine what is best for your infant, the use of sterile water is our recommendation. Those of us here on the Neocate team put your families’ safety and health first!
If you want to learn more about how to prepare sterile water, or why we include that recommendation for preparation of our infant formula, you can read this blog post all about those very topic in our blog post To Sterilize or Not to Sterilize. For more general information on the proper storage and preparation of Neocate, you will not want to miss a recent post from one of our in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Rob, on that very subject. Want more information? For more tips read our Simple How-to Guide.
Extended Family, Friends and Neighbors:
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I know I was lucky enough to have a very close family with friends and neighbors available to me as my personal village of support when growing up. I am still grateful for their love and support, and I imagine many of you are in the same boat as you raise your children and keep them safe with food allergies.
Way to go! I will also add a sincere thank you to all of you out there who are a vital member of the village when caring for the special little ones in your life, and especially any children with food allergies. Your support and time to make sure you know what is needed to keep children with food allergies safe is vital to their success, and no doubt deeply appreciated by their parents.
Tip #3, for the Extended Village Members: Take the time to get to know the details of your loved one’s food allergies, including what is needed to provide them with the care and love they need while keeping their food safe.
Education is always important for extended family, friends and neighbors who will support your loved one with their food allergy. Your own personal village needs to be in-the-know so they are ready and prepared to help you whenever needed. Make sure to have those food allergy and general food safety conversations early. Provide any details in writing or tools necessary to best support your loved ones, which can be immensely helpful for your family’s village of support.
Not sure how to have that conversation, or what they might need to know? Well no problem! Those of us here at Neocate have got you covered. Here is a post about the signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy, or perhaps this one all about explaining food allergies to relatives will help you and your family at the moment. Here is one more about talking to your toddler about food allergies that I recently wrote as well, in case this is what is weighing on your mind these days.
Share these posts with anyone in your personal village of friends, extended family members and neighbors so they are in the know and ready to help keep your child with food allergies food-safe when needed.
Do you have any suggestions for us or others on how to keep you little one food safe? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.
–Kristin Crosby MS, RDN. LDN