Kids love to share snacks and trade lunches on the playground or at school, which can be a serious risk if they have food allergies. Young children rarely have the self-control or a proper understanding of the seriousness of their condition, and may be tempted to eat foods that they know are taboo, unless an adult is there to intervene. For group gatherings, like birthday parties or when it’s your turn to provide the team snack at soccer practice, it’s best to opt for low-risk, allergy-safe snacks to avoid triggering a potentially life-threatening reaction.
As a parent of a food allergic child, you manage your child’s food allergies to the best of your ability, cautiously introducing new foods and scrupulously checking labels before letting them eat anything. Because some foods are more likely to cause an allergic reaction in food allergic kids than others, here are some simple snacks that are delicious and safe.
SunButter with Gluten-Free Crackers – SunButter is an alternative to peanut butter that contains no tree nuts, gluten, dairy or eggs. It is processed in a facility that shares roasting equipment with soy, but implements a cleanout process between batches to reduce the risk of contamination. Because of this, it is very unlikely to cause any sort of allergic reaction in kids.
Dried Fruit – While springing for a food dehydrator and drying your own fruit is the ultimate way of knowing the exact contents of a dried fruit mix, there are several commercially-available options that boast a low allergen risk and exclusive processing equipment. This naturally sweet and healthy snack is great for kids with or without food allergies; just be sure to double-check the label.
Frozen Bananas – Depending on how it’s processed and what sort of additives it contains, chocolate can be a risky proposition for kids with food allergies. Chocolate-covered frozen bananas are a favorite, but omitting the chocolate altogether still makes for a tasty treat.
No-Creamsicles – Kids that are tolerant of citrus are sure to flip for this dairy-free take on a summertime classic. Mix equal parts soy or rice milk with orange juice in Popsicle molds and freeze for a cool treat on a hot day.
Trail Mix – Commercially-prepared trail mix can be a bit iffy for kids with allergies; if you’re less than absolutely certain that a specific brand is safe for your child, making a batch of trail mix at home is a quick and simple fix. Toss sunflower seeds, dried fruit, raisins and other tolerated items together and pour into baggies for a safe on-the-go snack.
Fruit Leather – The all-natural version of processed fruit snacks in sheet form, fruit leather can be purchased in specialty stores or made fairly easily at home. Also, making homemade fruit leather allows you control over the ingredients.
Peanut-Free Ants on a Log – Food allergic kids that don’t have trouble with soy can enjoy this time-tested kid favorite with soy-nut butter; if your child is intolerant of soy, however, Sunbutter is another great alternative to the traditional peanut butter.
Here are some good points to remember and share:
- Choose products that are clearly labeled as nut/peanut free
- Consider an assortment of nut/peanut-free snacks like dried fruit, cheese, yogurt, and fresh fruits
- Ask your child’s school to provide an approved list of safe snacks and foods
- Take your child grocery shopping and let them choose the nut/peanut free snacks and foods they prefer for lunch and snacks
- Encourage your child to always eat their lunch and avoid sharing food with other children
Remember, ingredients and manufacturing processes can change, so always read the label, every time to make the most informed choices for your child’s snacks and lunches.