Weird question for all allergy parents — The Bump
Food Allergy

Weird question for all allergy parents

This will sound sort of strange! 

So since I've become "that mom" - the one that's always watching my kid like a hawk, trying to make sure he stays away from allergens and everything, I'm worried that I'm coming off as too much of a drama queen.  We had to leave a mom's group today that was hosted at a friend's house, and I was so stressed out because he broke out in itchy hive-splotches that swelled up his face (he was around a dog, and he's allergic), and we had to keep him away from Honey Nut Cheerios (he's not allergic to tree nuts, just peanuts, but I wanted to make sure), but he grabbed a fistful of them anyway (but we got them away before he ate any).  So we left early and got him an anti-histamine dose and put him in the tub, and I was just super stressed out because of having to make sure he was okay.

But I'm worried that I'm coming off as too over the top, and I guess I wanted to know if I was alone in this.  I know 100% that my kid comes first, and if he's having a reaction that it's time to get him away from whatever is causing it ASAP and treating it as needed, but I'm worried that other people who don't have to deal with it will think I'm over reacting.  Is this normal? Please tell me I'm normal, haha.
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Re: Weird question for all allergy parents

  • Totally normal.  I have the same concerns...as DD gets older, I'm considering how to balance my tendency to freak out vs the need to keep her life normal.  DD is also not allergic to tree nuts (only peanuts as far as we know) so I try to be really strict about peanuts and I don't allow her to eat tree nuts but I try to relax about possible traces (such as Honey Nut Cheerios).  You have to find what works for you...and I find if you just generally tell people that you know it's a lot but it's just overwhelming and are honest with them, they are usually open minded.  For us, family has actually been more annoying about this than friends.  

    My older DS (no allergies) just had a birthday party where two of his friends are allergic to peanuts and yet BOTH kids were allowed to eat the store bought cake (with a peanut warning).  I was shocked...but it also taught me that everyone handles this differently and I'm not judging them, just doing my own way.  Until further notice, I bring all of DD's desserts (we don't eat dessert out as a rule). 
    EIsieMaesnippet17
  • There's a fine line between protecting your kids properly and being an OTT nutbar (pun intended) about allergies.

    Most parents who are new to 'real' allergies (like stuff that can kill you, not like sneezing a bit near cats) are a little over-enthusiastic about it while they learn but most settle down once they get into a groove of knowing what's ok and what's a potential hazard.

    There does come a point where you get labelled "that Mom" and stop being invited places but it's rare (that I've known) for anyone to not settle down after a while.  Drawing up a safe/unsafe list to give to schools and friends can help you relax a little because between you, there's a lot less chance of a reaction. It also gets easier when your child is big enough to realise themself to avoid that food. 

    I personally have allergies and have never been concerned by "may contain traces" warnings. They have to put that on there if the product is even used in the same city and unless it's a case of  THINKING ABOUT a peanut(or other allergen) will hospitalize you, it's probably fine but it takes a while to work this out. It's also understandable when trying to figure out an unknown allergy.

    If it makes you feel any better, my stepmom wouldn't let my half-brother eat ANY kind of nut until he was almost 8 "just in case" he was allergic. Our dad wasn't thinking about it and handed him a chocolate with nuts in - the woman went bat-poop crazy and raced him to the hospital only for the doctor to ask if he was being filmed because he thought she was joking.
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  • I think you are normal.  DS is anaphylasic to fish and peanuts - as in , the last time he took one tiny bite of salmon, his throat closed and by the time he got to the hospital, only one of his lungs were functioning properly.  It annoys me to NO END when I tell other parents that DS is allergic to fish/peanuts, and they tell me "oh yeah, my DS/DD is too, they get a bit itchy if he/she eats a peanut", or claims that their child is allergic to something or whatever and it's not a true allergy, but rather just a food intolerance.  Anyways, due to the severity of DS's reactions, I take it very seriously.  We end up hosting a lot of dinners/brunches at our house so I can control what food is being served and consumed.  When I take DS to a large party (like a company picnic or something), I slap a "DO NOT FEED ME" sticker on him since he is only 2 and I worry that he'd ask people for food and they'd offer it to him.  I'm sure some people think I'm crazy.  But honestly, I don't care.  And when I explain the severity of DS's situation to other parents, they generally are pretty understanding.

    That said, I've tried to keep DS's life as normal as possible.  We still eat out a lot and I don't wipe down tables, or refuse to let him come into contact with all potential foods that carry his allergens.  I carry 2 epi-pens at all times and I just watch DS like a hawk anytime we eat at a new place.
    snippet17
  • I try not to be crazy about it, but DD1 reacts to trace amounts of peanuts, so we have to be really careful. We've had two ER visits since she was diagnosed. It's terrifying for us and extremely traumatic for her, so if people think I'm "that mom" because I don't let her eat store bought birthday cake, I don't care.
  • I think it's normal. 

    I found that with time, I was able to relax A BIT when out in public or at someone else's house with DS, but I am still very very very watchful. And paranoid. 

    Until they fully understand their allergy and can start protecting themselves, we have to advocate for them and keep them safe. 

    I've had people tell me that I'm too protective and "that's what his epipen is for" but I don't care. They don't understand and they don't understand that the use of the EpiPen is not easy and it's not an easy fix. It's a matter of life or death in our case, there is not being too protective.
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  • mrszee2b said:
    I try not to be crazy about it, but DD1 reacts to trace amounts of peanuts, so we have to be really careful. We've had two ER visits since she was diagnosed. It's terrifying for us and extremely traumatic for her, so if people think I'm "that mom" because I don't let her eat store bought birthday cake, I don't care.
    That's totally understandable though. Since it's a big reaction to trace amounts, you actually do NEED to be that careful so you really aren't over-reacting. You're the Mom that the other Moms should be making an effort to help by checking for nuts before playdates so you can relax a little.

    @Traveltheworld 's Do Not Feed sticker is understandable too (and a good idea), trying to wrangle a 2 year old is hard enough without also being on the look out for well-meaning friends and family with suspicious snacks. 

    Hopefully it'll get easier for y'all when the munchkins are big enough to read the ingredients themselves and avoid danger foods.

    If it makes you feel any better, you're all perfectly welcome to tell the tale of my Dad's crazy wife screaming her head off in the hospital because my 7YO half-brother had a bite of Snickers and was going to die (he's not even allergic to nuts, she's just crazy)

    People without allergies don't understand how severe the reactions can be which is probably why they perceive allergy-Moms as so overprotective. There's a world of difference between anaphylactic shock and needing Benadryll in summer which is probably why there's such a divide between those being cautious over a serious allergy and those who aren't bothered by a very minor one.

    Are people any better about understanding it if you explain it to them? Do they change their attitude to food when they know someone with an allergy is visiting?
    I tried explaining being lactose intolerant(not serious but not pleasant either) to my family and reactions are mixed. Some of them are really over-enthusiastic and won't allow dairy in the house when I visit, some *cough* Dad's crazy wife *cough* still put milk in everything and offer cheese sandwiches but most have the good sense to just ask if things are ok before feeding it to me or DD1. 
  • Thanks for the responses everyone! They were really helpful.  My friends are totally awesome at keeping an eye out and making sure that things are okay for him.  I just wasn't sure where the line was, really! But that's probably more of an insecurity on my part in general.  
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  • Are people any better about understanding it if you explain it to them? Do they change their attitude to food when they know someone with an allergy is visiting?
    I tried explaining being lactose intolerant(not serious but not pleasant either) to my family and reactions are mixed. Some of them are really over-enthusiastic and won't allow dairy in the house when I visit, some *cough* Dad's crazy wife *cough* still put milk in everything and offer cheese sandwiches but most have the good sense to just ask if things are ok before feeding it to me or DD1. 
    In my experience, not so much. Few people do. Many people mean well, but aren't careful. Others think I'm crazy. 

    I don't leave DS alone at my parents for a weekend or overnight because EVERY TIME we visit, I have to pull something off the table. My mom is terrible at reading labels and always forgets.

    My BFF has told me that my DH and I are compromising our lifestyle and shouldn't because of DS's allergy. Ie: He's allergic to sesame and I mentioned how we would never bring him into certain restaurants, such as a sushi restaurant. She told me that I was being ridiculous, that I should bring DS's own food and well, that's why he has an EpiPen. 

    My FIL constantly tries to give DS foods with sesame, including those sesame snap snack things. He always "forgets" or "doesn't realize". 

    Many don't understand the severity, are very unaware and just don't get it. We had a neighbourhood gathering over Christmas, it was a pot luck style event and the host advised everyone of DS's allergy. People brought containers of hummus, crackers with sesame seeds... it was a very unpleasant evening for myself and my DH.
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  • Are people any better about understanding it if you explain it to them? Do they change their attitude to food when they know someone with an allergy is visiting?
    In my experience, not so much. Few people do. Many people mean well, but aren't careful. Others think I'm crazy. 

    My BFF has told me that my DH and I are compromising our lifestyle and shouldn't because of DS's allergy. Ie: He's allergic to sesame and I mentioned how we would never bring him into certain restaurants, such as a sushi restaurant. She told me that I was being ridiculous, that I should bring DS's own food and well, that's why he has an EpiPen. 

    One of my friends used to bring his own food to places and carried a couple of Epi-pens. He was allergic to pretty much everything though so it was either do that or never go anywhere. 

    You probably compromised your lifestyle plenty when you had kids (observation, not a criticism) - no more late nights out or drinking in the afternoon or restaurants without high-chairs so surely accommodating an allergy as well is just another minor adjustment to what you had already started to change? I really don't understand where your friend is coming from with that.
  • Ditto darkangel. 
    I think over time you figure out how cautious you need to be. If your child was reacting then of course it made sense to get him out of there. If people can't understand that, that's their problem. (Not to sound harsh but seriously, what else would you do? Let him suffer and the hives get worse?) 
    I have found some people get more understanding when they learn more about allergies. When they know they're potentially life-threatening, they usually understand the need to take them seriously. 
    fraternal twin boys born january 2009
  • Around strangers i am totally paranoid. As i should be. People who know my daughter well enough im fine with and she never goes anywhere without her meds and also she is fully aware of her triggers and allergens and has been taught to be vocal about it


  • Honey nut Cheerios contains almonds, not peanuts.
  • @amber612 - True but the question is:  How do you know those almonds weren't processed with peanuts?  You don't.

    My DD actually eats almonds (almond butter) but I only let her have almonds that are labeled as processed in a facility without peanuts.  

    That said, if she had a Honey Nut Cheerio, would I freak out? No because she's not allergic to almond/TN...but I would prefer she not eat what I can't guarantee wasn't around peanuts.  Why bother with that kind of risk?
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