When we first started out on the food allergy journey, I had no idea that there would be certain things that we really needed to have.
Besides needing a phenomenal medical team and genuine support from others, we also need practical day-to-day items.
Thankfully, many incredible websites, resources, and products for food allergy families exist!
Here is our list of things our food allergy families cannot live without. And if you still need to do some last-minute holiday shopping, hopefully, this list is helpful!
1. Epinephrine Carrying Case
We use this every single day.
Once my son was prescribed EpiPens at 8 months old, we quickly realized we would need a way to easily bring them with us everywhere.
I didn’t know this at first, but it is also critically important to always have 2 EpiPens with you at all times. No one told us this in the beginning.
I also didn’t know epinephrine was sensitive to heat and needed to be stored at room temperature.
For more on EpiPens, check out our blog post, 6 Things No One Told Us About EpiPens
For days when we are going to be out in the hot sun all day, Frio cases can be a huge help! They were designed to keep medications at room temperature even when it’s hot outside. Here is the link to FRIO Cooling Cases.
We haven’t personally tried these yet, but we have heard great things about SpiBelts from other food allergy moms. These carry the epis under clothing and can be very helpful for kids ready to self-carry. Here is the link to SpiBelts.
2. Epi Reminder
As a food allergy mom, you quickly learn that you need to create a habit of bringing the EpiPens with you everywhere.
We tried a few things in our house to help us with this.
One was having a designated bag where the epis (in their carrying case) always live. When my kids were babies, it was the diaper bag. Now it’s a family backpack. Soon, we will get my son his own backpack to help him start practicing remembering his own epi.
Then, we hang the designated bag in the same spot inside the house when we get home. This way, we always know where it is in the house in case we need to grab it quickly. We also can quickly check if we accidentally left it in the car.
I also put a reminder in my phone every night, so I get an alert to double-check that we have the epis. It gives us one more reminder before bed to ensure we have the EpiPens inside the house and not in a cold or hot car.
One food allergy mom actually made a device called EpiReminder. It can detect if you are too far from your epi or if it is too hot or cold. So cool!
You can check them out here: EpiReminder
We’ve said to you before that our family is a walking picnic.
We bring all the snacks! This takes so much stress away when we are out and about. I have the comfort of knowing I always have a safe food option available for my kids.
This prevents the scenario of trying to quickly find a safe option when we are not at home.
This was huge when our family traveled to Disney this year. We brought a cooler daily in the park, so we always had safe food available.
We always bring a cooler of safe food when we go to the zoo, picnic, hike, etc.
One thing on my gift list is a cooler that plugs into your car! This would be AMAZING for road trips. If any of you have one that you love, I want to hear about it!
This was a massive win for our family this year! We love hiking, exploring the outdoors, going to the playground, the zoo, etc., but our food-allergy family needs to be able to wash our hands on the go, especially before we eat.
We bring our Suds2Go everywhere. This way, we can bring our own hand soap from home (because, apparently, it’s trendy to put nut oils in everything right now, including hand soap), and we can wash our hands anywhere!
We quickly wash our hands when my kids get off the playground equipment. If we’ve packed a picnic lunch, we wash our hands before we eat.
It’s so handy. We love it!
Yeah, I’m gonna need to have some chocolate.
I was ECSTATIC when I discovered Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. Finally, I had a safe option for my kids to order chocolates and treats for holidays and special occasions.
We love getting their baskets for Halloween and Easter and stuffing our Christmas stockings with their treats. This year was my kids’ first chance to have an Advent Calendar with chocolate.
For nut-free families, this is a great option. If you are managing other allergies, check them out anyway. They label super well, and there may be some options for you.
Enjoy Life is another great option for chocolate! They have really cute chocolates for different holidays and we LOVE their chocolate chips. These are a staple in our house and you will frequently find me eating chocolate chips in the pantry. Enjoy life is free from gluten and 14 allergens!
We also recently saw @blackallergymom post about Cococlectic and how it is gluten, soy, dairy, and nut free! We have not personally tried this chocolate, but it might be worth looking into to see if it is an option for your family.
We have decided to keep our home entirely nut free.
This is due to a few reasons and may change as my kids get older and our needs change. However, after diagnosis, I started checking everything in our house, including my coffee.
But this momma NEEDS coffee.
I was so excited when I found Jim’s Organic Coffee because they have fantastic allergen info. This way, I know exactly what I’m bringing into my home.
Spills happen, coffee grounds get everywhere, etc., and I love knowing that my coffee is safe for my son to be around.
Snack Safely is why my family has found some of our absolute favorite brands! As a new food allergy mom, learning about labeling requirements and manufacturing practices was overwhelming.
I really didn’t read labels before my son’s diagnosis, and it was essential that we knew exactly what was in the food and also if it had any risk for cross-contact. My son is sensitive to cross-contact.
If you are not sure what cross-contact is, check out our post, What In the World is Food Cross-Contact.
For more on food labels. check out our post, Food Labels and Food Allergies.
This is where Snack Safely comes in.
They created lists of snacks and brands you can search by allergen. The guides help you understand the manufacturing practices, so you can make the best decision based on your family’s needs. It’s awesome!
FARE is the trusted source of information about food allergies and we have greatly appreciated their emergency care plan.
It has a symptom guide for when to administer epinephrine and has been hugely helpful. I feel more confident in being prepared for a food allergy emergency.
I have also used this guide to bring other caregivers, like coaches, teachers, babysitters, grandparents, daycare providers, etc. up to speed on what should happen in an emergency so that everyone is on the same page.
One thing I did not expect about navigating raising littles with food allergies is how isolating it would sometimes feel. Often, it felt like I was the only one worrying about navigating the party, the playground, food challenges, and all the things that come with living with food allergies.
I distinctly remember meeting Katie for the first time at the playground. We got the kids together for a playdate, and I saw her backpack with her kids’ EpiPens in them and watched her scan the playground equipment for smashed food.
I almost cried. At that moment, I felt so understood and much less alone.
We started Food Allergy Mom to connect with other moms going through the same thing. We quickly realized how valuable having a friendship with another food allergy mom was, and we wanted to share that with all of you.
In addition to connecting with other food allergy moms, helping your support system come around you can also be life-giving.
We wrote 5 Ways to Help a Food Allergy Mom for tips on supporting allergy families.
10. Wet Wipes
Wipes are one of the 5 things we never leave the house without. We use them to wipe surfaces while we are out and about. The amount of food we find in the strangest places is bizarre.
For example, when our family goes hiking, we more often than not find pistachios and pistachio shells dropped on the trail. We have stepped on them by mistake, even when looking for them. The wet wipes have been so handy to quickly wipe them from our shoes.
Soap and water is the best way to remove allergen proteins from a surface, but wet wipes can be helpful in a pinch. The key is it needs to be wet and relatively sudsy (think like how a Clorox wipe is when it’s a brand new can).
Allergens aren’t like germs, we don’t need to kill them, but we do need to remove them from a surface.
11. Lunch Boxes
Katie’s children live for lunch boxes! She is constantly packing safe meals on the go, especially when they attend functions centered around food.
Bento-style lunch boxes are easy to prep, separate food, and are environmentally friendly. Katie’s family virtually stopped using plastic zip locks once they switched to these lunch boxes.
The lids lock and keep the different compartments of food from spilling into the other sections.
We’ve found that often, we bring our own food to gatherings, parties, etc., where we aren’t sure of the safety of the food prep.
A lunchbox that your kids love to carry their safe food in is a game changer!
12. A Great Allergist
My family has had 3 allergists in our food allergy journey because we have lived in 3 different states since my kids were babies. At each relocation, we needed to find a new allergist.
Having an allergist who listens well, who specializes in working with children, and who puts the kids’ experience first, has been an incredible support.
A great allergist has been so vital to our food allergy journey that Katie and I wrote a blog post about it.
You can check out that post here, 8 Signs of a Great Allergist.
Even if it takes you a few times to find the right one, it is more than worth having an allergist in your corner that you trust to help you navigate caring for your sweet kiddo(s) with food allergies.
We hope this gives you some ideas and additional resources to help you on your family’s food allergy journey.
As always, we’re here for you. <3