Dining Out With Your Young Food Allergic Child
by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP
*This post was originally published on The Tender Foodie Blog. The original article can be found here.
DO YOU DINE OUT?
Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing their child with food allergies to any restaurant for fear of exposing him/her to an allergen that could make them horribly ill or worse. Yet, according to Restaurants USA Magazine, Americans eat out for 4.2 meals per week! Dining out with our families and friends is part of our social routine. It’s possible to enjoy this time together as a family, but it requires a bit of planning. One strategy that may soothe some fears is assembling your own “Restaurant Backpack” filled with everything you need to create a safe and fun dining experience for your entire family.
While it might be tempting just to wrap the chair in your coat, as this parent has done (above picture), start instead with a washable highchair cover to shield your little one from those germy, possibly allergy-laced wooden restaurant highchairs. Fisher Price™ makes a padded version that includes tether straps to attach to toys so they won’t fall on the equally dirty floors. The carry pouch is included. Tuck a package of sanitizing wipes in the carry pouch so that when you arrive at your seat, the first thing you do is wipe down the table, highchair and anything that is within reach of your child. Then add the cover, then add the kid. Speaking of toys, it’s ideal to bring quiet toys that won’t disturb the other patrons, lightweight toys that keep the backpack manageable and socially interactive toys that focus on you and your child being together and enjoying the moment. My top three favorites?
Aquadoodle Travel N Doodle is a soft, mess-free, portable and foldable drawing mat that includes a refillable “water pen” that magically makes red appear on one side of the mat and blue appear on the other. The most your child gets on him/herself is a bit of water. One suggestion: store the pen in a re-sealable plastic baggie or empty it before going home. It can leak in the backpack.
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