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The gut microbiota and its link with food allergies

Posted 1.18.18 | Nutrition Specialist

Lately, we can’t seem to get away from talk about microbes. With terms like good bugs, bad bugs, fermented foods, probiotics, antibiotic resistance being used often – it’s enough to make your head spin! The good news is, we’re learning more and more on these topics and our knowledge is growing. With so much information available around you, where do you start? Let us help you out with some basics on these topics.

What is the gut microbiota?

The best place to start in answering this question is to define the word “microbiota.” Simply put, a microbiota is the community of microbes in a given area. Microbes include bacteria, viruses, and other very small (‘micro’) organisms. When it comes to humans, bacteria usually come to mind when we think about microbes. Bacteria are incredibly diverse, and almost every type of environment on earth can support certain bacteria. Bacteria are basically everywhere!

In fact, trillions of bacteria live with humans. The number of bacteria in and on a human body can outnumber human cells by up to 10 times, because they’re so small and numerous.

By far, most of the bacteria that live with humans are in the digestive tract. These bacteria are part of the gut microbiota. Types and amounts of bacteria change as you go through the digestive tract. The large intestine, or colon, has the most density and diversity of bacteria in the entire human gut.

The bacteria in our guts are extremely diverse. Just like fingerprints, the composition of your gut microbiota is unique to you (although we share some similar features). You have unique amounts and types of bacteria in your gut and, unlike fingerprints, the gut microbiota can change because the types and amounts bacteria shift over time.

Gut bacteria are very complex, but most are harmless. We sometimes think of certain ones as “good” (beneficial bacteria) and others that can be potential pathogens if the circumstances are right as “bad.” Some factors that impact the bacteria in our gut include genes, age, environment, health, antibiotics, and diet. This is why your gut microbiota can and do shift over time.

How is the gut microbiota important?

A long time ago, medicine didn’t think much of bacteria. In fact, there was a time when it was believed they were mostly harmful, or at least not helpful. Times sure have changed! We’ve learned a lot about the importance of gut microbes in both gut and immune health. The gut microbiota plays an important role in the normal function of the body, including:

  • Helping the body digest certain foods
  • Producing some vitamins
  • Defending against harmful pathogens
  • Playing a role in metabolism
  • Sending signals to the immune system

Since the gut microbiota can shift, and it’s composed of a range of “good” and “bad” bacteria, the more balanced the gut microbiota is - with more “good” microbes - the better it can perform the above roles in the body.

The gut microbiota is important in early life. In fact, the gut microbiota is more flexible in the first few years: It isn’t until about three years of age that the gut microbiota becomes relatively stable. The types and amounts of microbes in the gut in those first few months and years are influential, and have been linked to later health.

The development of a “healthy” and balanced gut microbiota in infancy is a key episode in early life. It’s hard to define what a “healthy” gut microbiota is, but the goal for infants is what the gut microbiota typically looks like for healthy, breastfed infants. For those infants, a balanced gut microbiota is typically dominated by bifidobacteria. Breast milk can be a source of bifidobacteria for breastfed infants, and provides nutrition that supports the growth of bifidobacteria.

What can happen if the gut microbiota isn’t in balance?

This has been tough to answer because gut microbes are so diverse, unique, and can shift. However, a growing body of research highlights the link between health and the gut microbiota. Scientists came up with a clever way to explore this. They’ve looked at the gut microbiota of infants and watched the health of the infants as they grew up. This let them look for clues that could link gut microbes with various health conditions.

Scientists have looked at lots of different health conditions, but we’re going to focus on the link between the gut microbiota and allergies. Here is a summary of some of what the research has found:

  • A link between the gut microbiota in infancy and later food allergies
  • A link between the gut microbiota in infancy and some later food allergic conditions
  • A link between the gut microbiota in infancy and atopic dermatitis later in childhood

This body of research suggests that imbalances in the gut microbiota - a.k.a. “gut dysbiosis” - in early infancy may come before immune conditions, including food allergy and atopic dermatitis. It’s important to note that we don’t yet know the full extent of the link between the gut microbiota and these allergies. For example, we don’t know if one can cause the other, or if they just tend to occur together.

How does nutrition influence the gut microbiota?

You might be interested to know that what we eat and drink has a huge effect on the types and amounts of microbes in our gut. The reason is that every microbe has to “eat” – or consume – something. Let’s call this their “food.” Most of the food available to our gut microbes is the leftovers of the foods that we eat. In other words: after our gut digests and absorbs what it can from our snacks and meals, most of the rest is eaten by our gut microbes.

But every microbe prefers specific foods. When the food that a given microbe likes is available, that microbe grows and thrives and is present in high numbers. When that microbe’s preferred food isn’t around, the microbe may be in our gut, but in very low numbers. Many good microbes grow best on various fibers, whereas other microbes might grow well on fat or protein compounds.

For adults, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains – all sources of fiber – can support a diverse gut microbiota. For infants, research has shown that human breast milk contains fiber-like compounds – human milk oligosaccharides – that support bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria are the most common gut microbes in healthy, breastfed infants, but are much less common in older children and adults.

The gut microbiota in infants with food allergies

Research has found that infants with cow milk allergy and multiple food allergies can have an imbalanced gut microbiota. That means that there are differences when compared to infants without food allergies. Specifically, infants with cow milk allergy and multiple food allergies have been found to have fewer bifidobacteria in their gut compared with healthy, breastfed infants.

Infants with milk allergy and multiple food allergies who need formula to supplement or replace breast milk must use a hypoallergenic formula. Research with older hypoallergenic formulas found that they helped resolve food allergy symptoms, but didn’t shift the imbalance in gut microbiota.

Neocate® Syneo® Infant is the first and only hypoallergenic formula that is shown to help balance the gut microbiota of food-allergic infants to be closer to that of healthy, breastfed infants. That’s because Neocate Syneo Infant contains both prebiotics and probiotics, specifically designed for allergic infants.

A diagram explaining the difference between prebiotics and probiotics:

Who Is This Formula For?

Neocate Syneo Infant is specially formulated for the dietary management of infants with cow milk allergy (CMA), multiple food allergies (MFA) and related GI and allergic conditions, including food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER). It's important to always contact a healthcare professional before making any changes to your baby's diet. Neocate Syneo Infant should be used under medical supervision.

Read more about Neocate Syneo Infant.


Rob McCandlish is a member of the Medical team at Nutricia North AmericaRob McCandlish is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who joined the Nutricia team in 2010. Rob has years of experience at Nutricia following food allergy research, working with Neocate products, talking with Neocate families and learning about the science behind Neocate and food allergies. Rob has two nephews who both used Neocate for their cow milk allergies!

Nutricia North America supports the use of breast milk wherever possible.

Bullying and Food Allergies. What You Can Do?

Posted 1.4.18 | Neocate Admin

Bullying would be upsetting for any child but since kids with food allergies already deal with the daily challenge of their allergies, bullying can be especially stressful for these children. Not only does the bullying cause an emotional toll, potential exposure to their allergens poses a serious, sometimes life-threatening health risk.

Let’s look more into bullying related to having food allergies, tips for prevention and other available resources parents can use to start conversations and help raise awareness.

Know the Facts

Both the number of children with food allergies and bullying incidents of these kids are on the rise. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies have increased in children approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011, estimated at nearly six million children, or 8% of kids in the U.S and roughly two in every classroom1. Let’s take it a bit further. Just under half, or approximately 40% of kids with food allergies have a life-threatening reaction to the food allergen1.

A study published in 2013 in Pediatrics2 found that 45% of children with a food allergy reported being bullied, with 31% reporting bullying in relation to their food allergy. Bullying frequently involved threats with food, which for at least 40% of children can also be a life-threatening risk! 2

Researchers noted that, while hard to compare, this seems to be higher than other reports of bullying rates for any reason of around 17% in the general population or the reported 19-32% from a recent UK-based study of bullying prevalence. The authors note their findings are comparable to published bullying rates of around 43% for children with special needs.2

Another finding from this research that may not surprise you is that not all children reported incidences of bullying. Researchers noted that 87% of children did notify someone when they had been bullied in relation to their food allergy, and 71% told their parents.2 Their findings suggested that if parents were not notified that friends seemed to be the recipient of the information regarding bullying.2

Impact of Bullying

Bullying can run the gamut from being barred by teachers from activities involving food, to name-calling by peers or even threats to the allergic child using the potential food allergen. Faced with this, the allergy-challenged child experiences increased stress and anxiety. This may lead to their not eating during school, avoiding school or even succumbing to peer pressure and forgoing the off-limits food, in spite of possible harmful side effects. Bullying can be both emotionally and physically damaging.

Since all these effects can result from just a single instance of bullying, prevention is essential.

The take home messages here are:


  1. Strongly encourage your children to report any bullying to you or their school professionals
  2. If you see bullying yourself, do something about it.

Signs a Child Is Being Bullied

So how do you know if your child is being bullied?  Some children might display warning signs. Familiarizing yourself with these signs can help you recognize if your child is being affected and they are not telling you.  Remember if you suspect your child is being bullied, don’t wait to ask them.

Tips for Preventing and Addressing Food Allergy Bullying:

Knowledge and communication are important in minimizing the bullying of kids with food allergies.

Parents, teachers, and the community can be instrumental in curbing food allergy bullying. Scripting responses, role playing scenarios and running interference with school personnel are ways parents can help.

Should your little one be faced with a bully at school, FARE has created helpful tips for preventing and addressing food allergy bullying:

  • Encourage open communication
  • Teach kids the skills they need to stand up to bullies
  • Recognize the signs of bullying
  • If your child is being bullied, be calm and assure him or her that you’re going to help
  • Encourage teachers, administrators, the school nurse, or counselors to offer educational programs about food allergies and bullying
  • Set up a buddy system

View more tips on bullying prevention from FARE.

Resources to Support You & Your Community:

There are a lot of great resources available for you and your support network to not only help prepare your little one with food allergies for success against any bullying they may face, but also resources to help raise awareness around food allergy bullying. 

One such resource is this PSA from FARE, “Food Allergy Bullying: It’s Not a Joke”:

Another interesting resource you might find helpful is an article from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology about What the Allergist Can Do. It can be a helpful resource when individuals with food allergies are being bullied.3  In addition to the bullying screening tools mentioned3 and the urge for the allergist to be aware of the issue so they can identify when this may be happening in their patients and refer them to a mental health professional accordingly, the authors also encourage the allergist to become an advocate for prevention in their respective communities. 

If your family is dealing with bullying, or you want to be proactive, perhaps you can invite your child’s allergist or members of their healthcare team to speak at school and educate others about food allergies, the risks associated with allergies and/or asthma, and how to promote an environment of support vs. an environment of harassment. 

FARE also has a number of other resources in relation to bullying prevention for individuals with food allergies including:

Looking for more resources to help prevent bullying? Well we are happy to oblige so your little one is prepared for success against bullies.  Here are some other general bullying resources you might find useful:

Sharing information and resources on the serious nature of food allergies and increasing awareness of the dangers of food allergy bullying is a way to be a change agent for kids with allergies. Spark some attention to this- spread the word.

-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN


  • Jackson, Kristen D., M.P.H.; Howie, LaJeana D., M.P.H., C.H.E.S.; Akinbami, Lara J. , M.D. “Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997–2011” CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. Number 121, May 2013
  • Shemesh E, et al. 2013; 131: e10-7
  • “Bullying and Food Allergy: What Can Allergist Do?” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Website. Accessed November 8, 2017. Link to article




Artificial Sweeteners Explained

Posted 12.11.17 | Nutrition Specialist

What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are altered versions of naturally occurring compounds. They taste sweet, and at times can be much sweeter than table sugar. That means that very small amounts of artificial sweeteners can be used in foods to match the sweetness provided by sugar.

Why are artificial sweeteners used?

Artificial sweeteners are usually used in foods and beverages to replace simple sugars. This is a common way to reduce the calories in beverages, like diet sodas. They’re also used in sugar-free candies and desserts designed for people with diabetes, who must be careful about and monitor their sugar and carbohydrate intake.

What about artificial sweeteners in Neocate®?

In hypoallergenic formulas, like some Neocate formulas, artificial sweeteners are used in place of simple sugars, but not for weight loss. It’s important to note that artificial sweeteners are not used in our Infant products and are used in products intended for those over the age 1. They’re used because unflavored hypoallergenic formulas can have strong bitter tastes. The best way to make them taste better is to increase the sweetness. Unfortunately, this would require so much natural sugar that the formula would become unhealthy and not nutritionally balanced. By using small amounts of artificial sweeteners, the taste of the formula can be improved without adding loads of sugars.

Several Neocate formulas use an artificial sweetener. Other formula brands often use multiple artificial sweeteners in a given formula, to help balance out aftertaste. However, any Neocate formula with artificial sweeteners will only use a single artificial sweetener. This is because some families prefer a specific artificial sweetener, so this provides them with options.

Most of the flavored Neocate formulas use sucralose, which has a balanced sweet profile and has been popular in recent years. A few of the flavored Neocate products use acesulfame potassium, which works well with citrus flavors.

Neocate Products Artificial Sweetener
Neocate® Syneo® Infant None
Neocate® Infant DHA/ARA None
Neocate® Nutra None
Neocate® Junior, Unflavored None
Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics, Unflavored None
Neocate® Splash, Unflavored None
Neocate® Junior, Tropical Acesulfame Potassium
Neocate® Junior, Chocolate Sucralose
Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics, Vanilla Sucralose
Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics, Strawberry Sucralose
Neocate® Splash, Grape Sucralose
Neocate® Splash, Orange-Pineapple Sucralose
Neocate® Splash, Tropical Fruit Acesulfame Potassium

Learn more about carbohydrates used in Neocate.

Have you tried a flavored Neocate formula yet? How did you like the taste? We always enjoy hearing from you!


Rob McCandlish is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who joined the Nutricia team in 2010. Rob has years of experience at Nutricia following food allergy research, working with Neocate products, talking with Neocate families and learning about the science behind Neocate and food allergies. Rob has two nephews who both used Neocate for their cow milk allergies!

How to Safely celebrate Halloween with Food Allergies

Posted 10.24.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Halloween can be a challenging holiday for families with food allergies. Most Halloween candy options contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy and/or wheat - 6 of the most common allergens. Adding to the challenge of finding allergy-friendly treats is the complexities around food labels. At times, miniature or fun-size versions of candy items contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts. Plus, some miniature candy items may not have labels! This  makes it harder to determine if they are safe for those with with food allergies or not. With all these barriers, how do you safely celebrate Halloween with food allergies?

Plan Ahead

With some advanced planning you can ensure that your child enjoys holiday festivities. Here are some items to think about as you get ready:

  • Serve allergy-friendly treats. You can make your own safe treats or buy them from allergy-conscious companies that manufacture dairy- and/or nut-free candies and chocolates. 
  • Fill your children’s Halloween bags with fun alternatives to candy. Instead of candies and other edible treats that might cause a food allergy issue, look for fun trinkets and toys your children will enjoy. Kids love temporary tattoos, plastic jewelry, bouncy balls and fun stickers. (Be sure to watch out for hidden allergens!)
  • Plan your trick-or-treating route ahead of time. Depending on where you live, you may be able to give your neighbors safe treats to give your child ahead of time. Another great way to make sure your little one only gets safe candies is to prepare a container of safe treats ahead of time and swap it out as soon as you get home.
  • Focus on other Halloween-themed activities. Instead of trick-or-treating, host a party that focuses on costumes, pumpkin carving, games and other Halloween-themed fun. This way your child can enjoy the holiday and you won’t have to worry about any accidental exposure to allergens.


The biggest movement to date to help raise awareness for food allergies and drive inclusion for all is Food Allergy Research & Education's (FARE) Teal Pumpkin Project. Teal Pumpkin Project acknowledges food allergies and creates awareness by promoting non-food items Halloween treats.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and launched as a national campaign by FARE in 2014. We are happy to hear that now FARE's Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement!

Teal Pumpkin Project Basics

  • Why Teal? Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. It has been used to raise awareness about this serious medical condition for nearly 20 years.
  • How to participate in Teal Pumpkin Project? The good news is that it really doesn’t take a lot to participate in this initiative. To start you will need a teal pumpkin and allergy-friendly treats or non-food items.Then, place a Teal Pumpkin, or the printable pumpkin picture from FARE, in your window to let neighbors and community members know you are a safe house for food allergies and can offer non-food-related treats for children who come to your house to trick-or-treat.
  • Where do you find a teal pumpkin? One fun option is to make your own! Grab a pumpkin, some teal paint or a spray can and have some fun. If painting or spray painting a regular pumpkin teal isn’t for you, now a lot of bigger craft stores are starting to sell a plastic or foam version you can purchase. Aside from the pumpkin color, there are no other requirements around decorating your Teal Pumpkin. Let your creativity shine!
  • Where do you find signs to show that you are a TEAL Pumpkin Project participant? Kick up your participation to the next level by helping to spread awareness by hanging posters and social media updates about your activities. The team at FARE even created free printable signs, flyers, and materials to help you make the most of these efforts. View available Teal Pumpkin Project printables.
  • How do you get yourself listed as a participant for trick or treaters in your area? FARE is also providing a Teal Pumpkin Project Participation Map that allows people participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project to add their home address, street or neighborhood. Adding your household to the map shows your support and allows you to connect with other families in your area who are participating.

Non-Food Allergy Friendly Halloween Treats

Non-Food Treats

What do you use as non-food items for treats? You can pick up some inexpensive toys: think outside of the candy aisle. Here are some ideas for non-food treats just to help with your brainstorming and planning:

  • Books
  • Bracelets, or necklaces
  • Glow sticks
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

How to incorporate Neocate into your Halloween festivities?

Some kids' food allergies are so severe they rely on a hypoallergenic formula like Neocate® - which means they either can’t have any food at all or can eat limited food amounts and types. In these special cases, you can put their formula in a festive cup or mix it with ice for a fun slushy. Be sure to check out our recipes pages for fun ideas you can mix.

What about school Halloween parties? Kudos to you for thinking of school events! What a wonderful opportunity to educate families and community members about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project! You can initiate these discussions by:

  • Offering to bring in non-food items for the party
  • Print and pass out copies of the free printable posters
  • Get the kids involved! Have them paint pumpkins as a party activity!

General Safety Tips

  • Make sure your child knows not to eat any candy until they get home, where you both can sit down and inspect them
  • If your child is younger, go trick-or-treating with them so you can monitor what goodies they get
  • If your child is okay with it, use an “allergen-free” bag for trick-or-treating
  • Research trick-or-treat locations in your area. Some malls and libraries offer candy-free trick-or-treat nights (including the Teal Pumpkin Project map we mentioned above)
  • If your child has contact allergies, make them a costume that covers them from head to toe
  • For children with feeding tubes, make Halloween-themed ice cubes

Halloween can be fun for all with just a bit of extra awareness and planning. Are you bringing teal into your holiday activities? We’d love to hear what you're doing to celebrate Halloween “teal pumpkin style” and see pictures of your little trick or treaters. Comment with a picture, or post to our Neocate Facebook page!



Can I Keep Breastfeeding My Milk-Allergic Infant?

Posted 9.19.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Successful breastfeeding can get complicated if your baby is diagnosed with an allergy to cow milk, or when other food allergies are suspected. So, what can you do when breastfeeding your milk-allergic infant comes into question?

Chances are you have given quite a lot of thought and preparation regarding your plans to feed your new infant. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby. It is the first choice when you ask the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and healthcare professionals worldwide. However, when your baby is diagnosed or is suspected of having a milk allergy, your baby’s diet must be free of cow milk protein.

Is it possible to manage your baby’s food allergies while sticking to your plan to breastfeed? Absolutely. Let’s look at a few scenarios and possible solutions.

My infant is reacting to the foods I’m eating.

Answer: Ask your healthcare professional for their advice.

It’s possible for small amounts of protein from foods in mom’s diet to make their way into her breast milk, which can cause allergic reactions if the infant develops an allergy to those foods.

The first option your healthcare professional should suggest in this situation is for mom to follow an elimination diet and continue to breastfeed. An elimination diet means you remove suspected allergens - both whole foods and most ingredients derived from that food - from your diet. This means protein from the potential allergen don't make it into your breast milk, thus removing the allergens from your baby’s diet.

Often the healthcare team will recommend you start by eliminating just milk, or a few items like milk and soy, and foods containing certain ingredients derived from milk and soy. Here is a short video from some of the members of our Neocate team explaining the basics of an elimination diet.

It may take up to two weeks to see if the foods you've removed from your diet have made the difference for your little one. If your baby continues to have problems tolerating your breast milk or perhaps has only a minimal improvement in their symptoms, then additional foods may need to be eliminated from your diet. This may be referred to as a “total elimination diet (TED)”. Read more about one mom Rachel, and her experience with TED.

It is key that you maintain a healthy diet to maintain your own health so that you can be well and also provide the nutrition needed for your infant through breast milk.  Eliminating some foods, especially large groups of food such as dairy, may jeopardize your health, so it is important to seek medical supervision from your doctor and/or a registered dietitian when planning an elimination diet to make sure all potential gaps in your nutrition are filled.

Supplements of certain nutrients may be recommended, depending on the number of eliminated foods. Key nutrients often obtained from dairy in the diet, at a minimum calcium and vitamin D, may be recommended by your healthcare team as supplements, for example, if you’re avoiding all dairy. They may also look for alternative foods to provide these and other essential nutrients.

Some moms have even found Neocate products to be a great hypoallergenic option to supplement their own diet and meet their own nutrition needs to continue breastfeeding their babies. This might be particularly helpful when mom is asked to eliminate multiple food items from her diet, or follow a “total elimination diet”. If this is something your curious about, you could discuss Neocate Splash with your healthcare team, although any Neocate product can be used as a supplement.

I want to continue breastfeeding but am not producing enough breast milk.

Answer: Ask your healthcare professional for their advice.

Some mothers struggle to produce enough breast milk to meet the needs of their growing baby. First, you should ask for a referral to a lactation specialist - experts in breast feeding strategies. Many healthcare professionals will recommend supplementing with infant formula so the baby still gets the benefits of breast milk while also getting enough calories and nutrients to ensure proper growth of the infant while the underlying cause of the low breast milk yield is addressed.

A hypoallergenic formula like Neocate is recommended to supplement your breast milk if your little one has reacted to your breast milk. That’s because guidelines advise that babies with food allergies, or who are already struggling to tolerate breast milk due to food allergies, should be given a hypoallergenic formula like Neocate when a supplement for mom’s breast milk is needed. (The reason? The fragments of protein from mom's diet that are found in breast milk are roughly the same size as those found in formulas made from broken-down dairy protein, which means they are likely to provoke an allergic reaction.)

Supplementing breast milk with Neocate can help you continue to provide your baby the wonderful nutrition from breast milk, while also making sure your baby gets the full amount of calories and nutrients they need to continue to grow and develop from a hypoallergenic formula. Your healthcare team, such as your pediatrician or registered dietitian, will advise you on what is needed for you and your baby specifically.  The amount of formula needed should be directed by your healthcare professional and will be unique to your infant’s individual nutrition needs. 

However, this can also present some challenges. Babies often have a hard time switching between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I hear from many mothers in this situation that the baby will often prefer one feeding over the other, and usually the baby prefers breast milk. For example, moms have told me that their baby drinks well when they are breastfeeding but they struggle with bottle feedings. Even mothers that are exclusively bottle feeding will often say that the baby prefers the bottles of breast milk over the bottles of infant formula.

Some Tips for Moms Supplementing their Breast milk:

  • Many healthcare professionals suggest manually expressing your breast milk and bottle feeding only to help in this situation.
  • It is often recommended to add prepared Neocate consistently to the bottles with expressed breast milk. This can help with bottle acceptance because the bottles are consistently the same taste and the baby is consistently being bottle fed.
  • The amount of prepared Neocate needed should be directed by your healthcare team based the nutrition needs of your baby and your breast milk production.

Let’s say, for example, that your healthcare professional determines that your baby needs an additional 10 fluid ounces of Neocate daily and your baby is drinking 5 bottles daily. In this example, your healthcare professional might recommend an additional 2 fluid ounces of prepared Neocate added to each bottle of expressed breast milk. You would prepare the Neocate at the recipe recommended by your healthcare professional, then add 2 fluid ounces to each bottle of breast milk. This ensures the baby is getting a similar blend of breast milk and Neocate at each bottle.

Again, your healthcare professional will direct you regarding what is best for both you and your little one, so ask your pediatrician or registered dietitian for what is best for you. 

I am adding prepared Neocate to breast milk, but my baby is not gaining weight.

Answer: Ask your healthcare professional for their advice.

For some infants, the calories in breast milk or formula may not be enough to support weight gain at a normal rate. When your baby can’t consume any more breast milk or formula in a day, the healthcare team may suggest other options to help your baby gain weight and keep on track with their expected weight gain, or growth curve. (You can track your baby’s intake using the Neocate Footsteps App, so you can show the healthcare team exactly what she’s taking.)

Often an increase in calories is needed. One option your healthcare professional may recommend is concentrating the Neocate before adding it to your breast milk. This can help to increase the calories and nutrients from Neocate that your baby is consuming, on top of the breast milk. The same tips discussed above can be helpful in this situation when expressing your breast milk, especially adding the Neocate to your breast milk consistently between bottles.

Again, your pediatrician or registered dietitian will advise you what is best for you and your baby, and how exactly they want you to prepare Neocate before adding it to your expressed breast milk. It's important to only change the concentration if directed by the healthcare team, and to always follow their instructions: formula that is too concentrated can lead to dehydration and other health issues. In other words, consult the healthcare team first – please do not attempt this on your own!

What other questions do you have about breastfeeding your baby with food allergies? Please share any questions or any suggestions you might have for other mothers facing this situation in the comments below.


-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN

Originally posted 8.9.16, Updated 9.19.17

Neocate® Splash: Complete Amino Acid-Based Nutrition

Posted 9.12.17 | Nutrition Specialist

At Nutricia North America, we work hard to make sure that your child receives the best possible nutritional support. Towards this goal we update existing Neocate products and introduce new products to provide your family with great options based on the latest medical and scientific knowledge. We are very excited to announce the launch of New Neocate® Splash. This great new product is now available in the United States!

What is Neocate Splash?

Neocate Splash is a range of amino acid-based nutrition for individuals over the age of one. This range is

✓ Hypoallergenic

✓ Nutritionally complete

✓ Ready-to-feed

✓ Available in 4 great tasting flavors

✓ Ideal for oral and tube feeding

This great new product is indicated for the dietary management of cow milk allergy (CMA), multiple food allergies (MFA), and related gastrointestinal and allergic conditions, including eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), short bowel syndrome (SBS), malabsorption, and gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

Neocate Splash has a unique nutrient profile, based on that of Neocate Junior, to provide complete nutritional support.

The 3 flavored products are NEW additions to our Neocate Splash range. They are fully replacing our existing range of Neocate E028 Splash. Neocate Splash, Unflavored remains unchanged and available. See this short video to learn more about Neocate Splash:

Neocate Splash Flavors:

Neocate Splash is now a complete range with 4 great tasting flavors:

✓ Orange-Pineapple (New)

✓ Tropical Fruit (New)

✓ Grape (New)

✓ Unflavored

Neocate Splash is the only hypoallergenic, amino acid-based formula that is ready-to-feed; offering freedom and flexibility to children who require an amino acid-based diet. Neocate Splash is designed to travel well and is ideal for use in out-of-home settings such as daycare and schools. The easy peelable opening makes it quick and simple to pour.

Transitioning to the new Neocate Splash

If you are a current Neocate E028 Splash user, please visit to view the resources that we have developed to assist you in your transition to Neocate Splash. If you have product-related questions or need help finding a suppliers for Neocate Splash, contact our Customer Service team Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm ET at 1-800-NEOCATE (1-800-636-2283).

Celebrating Birthdays with Allergy-Friendly Treats and Alternative Birthday Cakes

Posted 8.23.17 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

This blog was originally posted on August 8, 2013 and was updated on August 23, 2017.

Are you hosting a birthday party for your food-allergic child or child on a restrictive diet? When your child has a food allergy or other condition limiting the food that they can eat, a typical birthday cake may not be an option. For example, did you know that most cakes and baked goods call for dairy, eggs, and wheat, which are three of the top eight allergens? In fact, fish and shellfish are the only two of the top allergens that do NOT regularly appear in baked goods! 

Let’s look at few allergy-friendly options you can try for your next celebration. Please keep in mind that allergy-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean allergen-free, depending on your little one's food allergies, so be sure to check if the ingredients are appropriate for your child’s specific list of foods to avoid.

Birthday Cakes

Birthday cakes are so much more than just the ingredients that go into them. They represent the milestone of another year of life. When your child has a food allergy or other condition limiting the food that they can eat, a typical birthday cake may not be an option. Here are a few alternatives to a traditional birthday cake that could make a great allergy-friendly stand-in.

Birthday Trifle "Cake"

Instead of a cake, a trifle might be the next-best thing. You can layer almost any dessert-type items along with fruit in a trifle dish to make a dessert worthy of candles. It looks fancy, tastes delicious, and everyone can enjoy.

How to make a Trifle “Cake”:

  1. Start by choosing fruits your child likes in an age-appropriate form (pureed for 1st birthdays, cut into small pieces for toddlers, or slices for an older child).
  2. Add a layer of a favorite baked good, if you have a “safe” one to choose from, such as an allergen-free cookie. This could be whole, cubed, or even crushed into crumbs. Looking for ideas? Try the Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook.
  3. A pudding or something similar makes a great third layer. If boxed pudding mixes aren’t an option, you could prepare a starch-based pudding and replace dairy ingredients with fruit juice. Another option is to create a pudding using Neocate Nutra (for children over the age of 6 months).
  4. We find that mixing Neocate Nutra with half the water that the directions suggest gives a nice pudding-like consistency. You could even make a flavored version by adding Neocate Junior to Nutra, as seen in these past blog posts: Chocolaty Nutra Pudding, Neocate Vanilla Pudding, Neocate Tropical Pudding.
  5. Once you choose your fillings just keep repeating layers until you reach the top of the trifle dish!
  6. Add candles and other decorations (if you can’t use icing, wash a plastic toy in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry for the ultimate “cake”-topper!).

Yellow Cake with Frosting (Submitted by: Jessica Snell)


  • 1 box suitable yellow cake mix (e.g. Cherrybrook Kitchen)
  • 1/3 cup melted “tolerated” butter or margarine (e.g. Earth’s Balance dairy/soy free butter)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Follow baking directions on cake package.


  • 1/2 cup “tolerated” butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp water
  • Add powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency
  • 1/4 tsp almond or other flavoring, optional
  • 3 drops pink food coloring, optional
  • Melt butter, mix in powdered sugar to make clumpy. Add water to smooth it out. For thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar. Once desired consistency is reached, add almond flavoring and 3 drops of pink food coloring, if using.

This recipe makes ~12 servings

Eggless, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake (Submitted by: Daphna Finn)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together. Combine all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients, and beat just until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13” pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan. When cool sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

This recipe makes about 15 pieces of cake.

Banana Cake (Submitted by: Anne Medsker)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick suitable unsalted margarine
  • 2 eggs, or suitable substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup organic rice beverage or other milk substitute
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl add sugar and margarine and beat with mixer until blended. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Mix in rice beverage, vanilla and banana. In a separate bowl combine baking soda, powder, salt and flour and whisk together. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet and beat 1 minute, just until combined. Grease a 9 x 13” baking pan with canola oil or baking spray. Pour in batter. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) also has a good variety of cake and icing recipes to try. Here's a recipe from their website:

Basic Buttercream Icing (Created by Laurie Carson)

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water

Beat all ingredients together thoroughly. To make it thinner, add a little light corn syrup.

You could add cocoa or carob powder to the icing to make it chocolate, if desired. I also added a drop or two of vanilla, almond or another extract to take away some of the sweetness, but it's fine without it, too. Please note that margarine typically contains milk or soy, but there are milk- and soy-free versions available. Corn Substitutions: Corn is a common ingredient in products. Starch, modified food starch, dextrin and maltodextrin can be from corn. While true corn allergies are rare, consult with your allergist to find out which corn derivatives you need to avoid. 

Many corn-free options are available in the US. Find out more about corn substitutions in this KFA article.

Cake Alternatives:

Sometimes a traditional cake isn’t the best option for your child. That’s ok!

Who says that an equally delicious dessert can’t make a stellar stand-in for cake? Not us! Our Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook lists several dairy-free, allergy-friendly dessert ideas for other great foods that most kids would enjoy.

For kids who are not able to eat food at all, non-edible birthday cakes are an option. You can create one with a bit of imagination and some cardboard, foam paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint. Once you have the basic shape of the cake made from cardboard (or foam), poke little holes in it and insert candles for your birthday boy or girl to blow out (just make sure to practice fire safety first, because cardboard and foam are flamable!)

If you need some inspiration of non-edible birthday cakes, check out these creative ideas that have been submitted to us in the past:

  • Connor's birthday "Neo-Cake"
  • Sy's Foodless Bowling Cake (image source
  • Mallory's Cake for Caroline

“My sister Caroline has a feeding tube, but up until last year, she was able to eat SOME food by mouth so we always just got her a regular birthday cake. She can no longer have any food by mouth due to swallowing problems so this year, I made her a fake pink and purple princess cake out of cardboard, foam paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint (pictured below). We poked little holes in it and inserted candles for her to blow out. Her favorite part of birthdays is singing and blowing out the candles so she didn’t even seem to miss eating cake. In fact I think she loved this foodless cake even more because she can keep it and we can relight the candles and sing over and over again (although she might think she is 300 years old by now).”

Remember, celebrating birthdays is about so much more than cake. By creating no-cake birthday cake you can still sing birthday songs and blow out the candles. Bonus: You can keep your foodless cake as a great keepsake!

Cake Decorations:

Once you’ve decided on your cake, get creative and have fun decorating! We found some fun ideas to help you get started:

Better Homes and Gardens: Creative Birthday Cakes for Kids

Unique Birthday Cakes Gallery (from

You can even use Neocate cans to decorate creatively like Senstive Mommy!

The moral of this story is that eliminating foods doesn’t mean you have to stop giving your little one a happy birthday. When it comes down to it, birthdays are not about the cake, but about the effort that goes into making your little one feel loved on their special day. With a little creativity, you can still have a great time celebrating another year and milestone.

Do you have a little one with a birthday coming up? What will you do to help them celebrate? Comment below or find us on Facebook.

Traveling with Neocate - Ready, Set, Go!

Posted 8.2.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Whether your child is out of school for summer break or you are getting ready to visit family for the holidays, we all get an urge to take a break from our regular yearly routine and go out in the world exploring. 

There is always a lot to consider when planning a trip. Where will you go, how will you get there, who will join you in your adventure? Traveling with a food allergy adds yet another caveat to the plan: What will you eat and how much Neocate will you need to bring?

Some parents wonder about the best way to bring Neocate along on their vacation, whether it’s a road trip or flight. Many parents are concerned about the high temperatures during summer months and whether this will be a problem when transporting Neocate. We also get questions about obtaining Neocate in other countries.

Let us here help you get ready, set and go for a successful trip planning.


Planning is the key to success in so many areas of life and planning for travel is no exception. Lodging and transportation plans are always on top of the list. For those of us in the food allergy community, food and formula plans are also a top priority.

You will want to be ready for your trip to know restaurants in the area that can accommodate your food allergy needs. A good place to start is by reviewing our recent blog on Food Allergies and Dining Out to help you prepare for your travels. 

You will also want to calculate how much Neocate you will need for your trip, and this is not the time to be conservative. When calculating the amount of formula you will need for the entire trip, it’s best add extra for any unexpected delays you might encounter. For example, we once heard from a family that was stuck in another country with their flight being delayed by couple of days. Without a buffer of formula, they had to look for a local pharmacy to get a refill. Save yourself the stress and headaches by planning.

Example how to calculate how much Neocate you might need on your trip:

First start with the number of ounces of formula your baby drinks each day. Multiply this by the number of days you will be gone, including the travel days. For example, if you’ll be away for seven days total, including travel days, and your baby drinks 20 fl oz per day, you’ll need 140 fl oz over the course of the trip. Each can of Neocate Syneo yields about 95 fluid ounces (at the standard dilution of 20 calories per ounce), so you divide 140 by 95 and round up. This example baby would need about two cans of formula for the trip. Once you know the number of cans you will need, I recommend packing an extra can just in case travel plans change unexpectedly.

If you are like me and take a bit of time to return to your usual schedule after a vacation, then you may also want to consider how much Neocate you will need to carry you through the following week or even 2 weeks after your vacation as well.


Now that you know how much Neocate you will need for your trip, time to plan how you will travel with your formula. The decision to make at this stage is, should I pack it or ship it?

If your travel plans make it possible, you can pre-order Neocate ahead of time and have it shipped to your desired destination. Did you know if you order directly from our website orders over $25 get free ground shipping? View available Neocate products.

Shipping product ahead of your arrival may help lighten the load of what you will need to pack and carry with you, which can be especially helpful when traveling by plane. If you decide to go with this route, consider packing some emergency supplies with you just in case. Going this route will also require for you to call your destination to alert them that you are expecting a package, ask how it should be addressed, and provide any other instructions that are needed for storage.

If you decide to pack and travel with your Neocate products, make sure you check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for what you can carry on board and through security and onto your flight. TSA has regulations about flying with liquids for you or your family member. Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted to be brought on board the aircraft. Older individuals (older child, teen or adult) may also travel with Neocate.

Travelers must tell the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that they wish to bring formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in their carry-on bag. (These liquids do not have to fit within a quart-sized bag like other liquids.) The formula, breast milk and juice are typically screened by X-ray, and any of these liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening. Ice packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are also permitted through the screening checkpoint but may be subject to additional screening. 

Some Neocate families have told us that they’ve met TSA officers who aren’t used to seeing an older individual requiring a medical food like Neocate before. If you or your loved one is older, it may also help to bring a doctor’s note explaining that Neocate is medically necessary.

TSA recommends that if you plan to travel with large quantities of medically necessary liquids you should coordinate your screening by contacting a Passenger Support Specialist prior to your flight. Since guidelines for traveling can change at any time, it's best to review TSA guidelines for traveling with medications including liquids and TSA guideline for traveling with children to have a clear understanding of traveling with breast milk and formula such as Neocate. 

When packing, make sure to bring enough formula for the flight in your carry-on bags and some extra just in case your checked bags get lost. Neocate formulas can be prepared ahead of time and kept in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours. So if you have a long flight, consider bringing a little cooler for your bottles. Some parents prefer to not bring all of the Neocate in their checked bags and instead ship most of it to wherever they are heading ahead of time. If you do this, make sure to confirm that the product has arrived before you leave for the trip so that you don’t arrive to find that the package did not get to your destination.

Are any extended family members or other friends included in your travel plans? If so, don’t hesitate to enlist their help in packing the Neocate you will need to keep on hand while traveling. No need for you to carry your Neocate all by yourself if other family is available and willing to lend a hand, or even a suitcase!

Whether traveling by plane, train, car, bus or boat you want to pack some Neocate with you to ensure you have what you need with extra just in case.

Want more tipcs for packing? Here are some tips and a check list of items you will want to include:

Packing Checklist:

  • Epinephrine & Medications - Make sure to keep medications and your epinephrine auto-injector with you in case they are needed during transit. This will also ensure that, should something either delay or inhibit your luggage from meeting you at your destination, you have medications on hand. If your child has epinephrine, make sure it isn’t expired and consider packing an extra just in case. Have it handy at all times and get an insulated carrying case to prevent it from getting too hot or cold.
  • Allergy Cards - Having allergy cards ready for those who might want or need them such as airline staff, restaurant staff, or even family members can help provide a clear outline of the types of foods that will cause your little one to have a reaction. Our Neocate Footsteps App can help you create an allergy card if needed.
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Allergy-friendly snacks - Snacks are always a good idea when you travel as you never know when a delay or change in plans may happen and you will need a snack. Traveling with food allergies makes this even more important as you may not have access to items that are appropriate for you. Check out the TSA Guidelines for Food allowed if you plan to fly for the most up-to-date information on regulations.
  • Games, reading material, or entertainment. (Parenting hack: One of the mom’s on our team likes to wrap old toys and games in gift wrap paper to make her toddler feel like they are getting a present)
  • Diaper Bag (If you need a separate checklist of items for packing an Allergy-Friendly Diaper Bag)
  • Wallet, purse, cash, ATM cards, any other financial documents you will need
  • All travel documents including your ID, passport, and IDs for your children if needed
  • Printouts of all reservations and itinerary (for when you can’t find that Wi-Fi connection)
  • Neocate

Craving additional prep tips? We have ideas from friends who can help. Get more tips by reading a firsthand account from a mom Gina Clowes, founder of, who has traveled with food allergies herself. Read her Food Allergy Travel Tips.

You can also view the following free webinar from Kids with Food Allergies featuring guest speakers Laurel Francoeur, JD, and Matthew Greenhawt, MD, MSc. The presentation covers legal restrictions, disability issues, TSA regulations, peanut dust and inhalation studies, and how to prevent allergic reactions on airplanes.


Finally, time to get out and enjoy your trip.  You are all set, prepared for the unexpected, and ready to enjoy time away with your loved ones. Should you find that you need more Neocate along the way, use this Find a Pharmacy tool from our website to help you located the Neocate you need, also available in the Neocate Footsteps App. Please call the pharmacies that are listed in your search to be sure they have Neocate in stock, and especially the Neocate option you are looking for particularly. If not, keep in mind that Neocate products can be special ordered with doctor’s recommendation.

Keep in mind that all unopened Neocate should be stored at room temperature in a cool dry place and avoid extreme temperatures. Once Neocate powder has been prepared or a Neocate Splash drink box has been opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours or discarded. Prepared Neocate or opened drink boxes are safe at room temperature for up to 4 hours, at which time any unused formula should be discarded. Once your loved one starts to drink their Neocate from a bottle, cup, or drink box it should be consumed or discarded within 1 hour.                                                                                                                    

In case you are concerned about the safety of your Neocate while in transit, perhaps this will help put your mind at ease for your pending travel. Short term exposure to temperature such as those you might encounter on your travels, like time in the airplane cargo hold or the warm summer temperature in your car, do not pose a risk to product quality or stability. Those extreme temperatures do not become a concern unless a product is left at those temperatures for an extended period of time, for example several days or weeks.

Lastly, if your travel plans include flying out of the country you might be wondering whether Neocate can be purchased in other countries. The short answer is "maybe." Neocate is sold around the world, however, it is not available everywhere, not all products are available in all countries that have Neocate, and every country has different processes for obtaining it (through a doctor, pharmacy, mail, etc). You should not assume that it is easily obtainable and in most cases, it is easiest to just bring along enough formula for your trip. If you are going to another country for an extended amount of time and don’t think you can bring a big enough supply with you, call Nutricia’s global office or the office of the country where you are heading to see if you can purchase Neocate locally. If you can arrange this, be sure to bring as much formula as possible with you just in case there is a delay in obtaining the formula locally once you arrive.

What other Neocate questions or concerns do you have when you prepare for your family for Summer travel?  How do you prepare to travel with Neocate?

Share your stories, tips for others, or even pictures in the comments below. 

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN


3 Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp with Food Allergies

Posted 7.25.17 | Nutrition Specialist

Step #1: Research

Planning is always the key to success and essential when your little one has food allergies. Let’s discuss some tips and resources to help you research summer camps for your little one to be sure both your child and the camp are properly equipped to successfully manage their food allergies.

Questions that will need answers:

  • What is the camp menu and options for allergy friendly alternatives?
  • Is there a dedicated place for allergy friendly food or snacks to be stored?
  • Is there a dedicated place to store epinephrine at camp?
  • Is your child allowed to bring packed lunches/snacks? What about potential allergens from the other campers that will be attending camp with your little one?
  • Is there a food allergy management plan for the camp?
  • Is there a designated area for little ones with food allergies to eat?
  • What kind of camp staff are available for your child? Is there a healthcare professional on site?
    • If so, what are the healthcare professional’s credentials, responsibilities or capabilities?
    • If not, who is available to assist your child with any medical issues or medications?
  • What is the procedure for emergencies? Where is the nearest hospital or medical center?
  • What activities are offered that might elevate the allergen exposure for your child?

Resources to help you in your research:

Another good resource is the following recording of a webinar featuring Dr. Pistiner and Ms. Polmear-Swendris answering questions about how to choose a camp, what questions to ask of summer camp staff, how to store epinephrine at camp, and a review of basic food allergy management.

Step #2: Advocate

Now that you have done your research, it is time to start advocating for your child. Even if the camp you have chosen is well ahead of the food allergy game, your child is unique and truly one of a kind. It is your job to advocate for your child and make sure everyone is educated and prepared to provide the needed care for your little one specifically. The camp will need education regarding the details of your child’s food allergies, any signs or symptoms they need to be on the lookout for, as well as, what to do if an exposure is either suspected and/or confirmed. Here are the ABC’s of how to advocate for your camper:

  1. Notify everyone possible about your child’s food allergies. This might include:
    • The camp director
    • Staff assigned to work or interact with your child
    • All healthcare professionals available to your child while at camp
    • Anyone assisting in transportation
    • Staff working with food or staffing mealtimes
    • The camp lifeguard
    • And even any camp volunteers, special event or course instructors, or staff subs is that is possible.
  2. If there is no food allergy policy already in place, make sure to outline one that is tailored to your little one’s needs. If a policy exists, then you should still make sure and outline the details of how it will apply to your little one in particular
  3. Prepare an Emergency Care plan and Food Allergy Cards for reference to all who will need this information. Need some guidance to prepare these documents. Check out these resources:

Step #3: Educate

Now that the camp staff are prepared with the knowledge and tools they will need, time to be sure your camper knows how to advocate and care for themselves. After all, your child will be the best and first line of defense to prevent accidental exposure to allergens. If you need assistance, here is a Neocate blog with 3 Easy Steps for Success when Explaining Food Allergies to your Toddler.

Here are some quick items you may want to cover when educating your child to be ready for their summer camp adventure:

  • Discuss their red light and green light foods (or safe and unsafe) and what they can expect while at summer camp
  • Perhaps some reminders for rules when eating, such as not to share food with other campers
  • Their symptoms or reactions to food allergens
  • Who and to whom to tell if they feel funny, or what to do in certain camp situations
    • Not to go off alone if they are not feeling well
    • Where they can receive medical attention if needed
    • Where their important allergy documents are located
    • How to administer their medications, or epinephrine if needed
  • How to read a food label if possible, or who to ask for questions about the food options when at summer camp. Perhaps where their food allergy friendly snacks will be stored


  • If interested, this might be a wonderful time to get your little one a medical alert bracelet. There are many options available, including water proof ones that are perfect for summer!

Time for Summer Camp Fun

Keep in mind, getting ready for camp can be similar to how you get ready for a new school year or traveling. If you need additional tips on how to specifically travel this summer with Neocate, make sure to check-out Helpful Tips and Resources when Traveling with Food Allergies.

Now it is time for your little camper to get out and enjoy the summer camp fun. You have done your research, advocated for your little camper with staff, and educated your little one on how to have fun and stay safe while at camp. Time for the fun to begin.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? We would love to hear how you prepare for summer camp with food allergies, and especially how your little Neocate camper did at their summer camp. Please share in the comments below.

-Kristin Crosby MS, RDN, LDN

Food Allergies and Dining Out

Posted 7.19.17 | Guest Blogger

When it’s time to dine out, every parent with a child who suffers from food allergies has a hard time letting go of kitchen control.  This is because allergen avoidance is always the most necessary form of prevention and this is often easily accomplished in the comfort of your home. However, a late soccer practice, meeting, or simply just wanting to enjoy the cuisine of a favorite local restaurant can make allergen avoidance difficult. Eating out puts the responsibility of allergen on both the diner and the restaurant staff.


Research shows that there is ample opportunity for restaurants to improve their food allergy safety practices. According to the Food and Drug Administration Food Code, the person in charge at an establishment (i.e., the manager) should be knowledgeable about food allergies. We cannot guarantee that all staff will be knowledgeable, but that shouldn't discourage families from eating out. We want our children to be able to enjoy the typical and “normal” parts of everyday life, and there are a number of steps that we can take to be safe.


Fortunately, many large restaurant chains have picked up on how important it is to make sure they offer options and service to families managing food allergies. Many have standardized menus, which often include ingredient information, which can provide you and your family with safe, allergy-friendly food options.


Do Your Research

A great place to start is to research the restaurants you are interested in! Most major chain establishments have websites where you can view their menus before you visit. This gives you a chance to identify safe options for your little ones with food allergies before you go.


Keep in mind that websites may not be updated frequently and ingredients may change, so it’s always a good idea to speak to a manager at the location where you're interested in dining before you go. This will help you ensure that the restaurant really is food allergy-friendly and cross-contamination won’t be a problem.

Another great resource when doing research is AllergyEats, which describes itself as "the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States."


AllergyEats is a free, peer-based website and app (for both Apple and Android devices) where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. The site, app and related social media forums allow families with food allergies to help each other reduce guesswork and limit some of the anxiety surrounding dining out with food allergies. We're all about free, and you can't beat social support systems where you can get input from families like your own!


As always, it's still important for you to ask questions of restaurant staff and make requests to make sure you're comfortable. Another family managing a less-severe food allergy or an allergy to a different food might report that the restaurant met their needs, but their needs may not be the same as yours.

Always Double Check

As parents, we always want to make sure our kids are safe, so I recommend always checking to make sure the restaurant is still food allergy-friendly even if it’s a restaurant you dine at frequently. Always be sure to tell your server about all food allergies to ensure that you have a happy and healthy dining experience. Many times, they'll be happy to send the chef out to speak with you personally about your dietary restrictions!


Once you’ve identified a restaurant with potential, call them during non-peak dining hours (Fridays and Saturday afternoons are generally super-busy, so try a weeknight, which is typically slower). Ask to speak with the manager or a chef and find out if they can prepare a safe meal for your child. If they say "yes" don't be afraid to ask them what steps they'll take so that you can feel confident. Some parents prefer to “try out” the restaurant without the children to get a feel for their ability to accommodate. If you get the feeling that they are unwilling, unable or just don’t “get it,” move on.


In the meantime, you may want to prepare an allergy card for the chef that specifically lists your child’s allergies. Having a list of foods that aren’t safe for your child, and possibly a list of suitable substitutes for common ingredients, can make it easier for the chef to keep track of. This adds an additional reminder, particularly if you are dealing with multiple food allergies.

Go Prepared to Eat

Before you leave for the restaurant, bring a few staples in case the restaurant does not have everything you need. For some parents, bringing a safe food in a thermos or a safe sandwich is an excellent alternative. It's easy to bring a little dairy-free margarine and some vinegar and oil for salads, too! (Dressings often contain dairy, soy, wheat, nuts and/or seeds). Lastly, if your child has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, make sure you have it with you before you leave for the restaurant.


Do you have any additional tips for eating out? Comment below!

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