10 Things Not to Say to a “Food Allergy Mom”

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photo courtesy Lindsay Stippich

Being a mom is hard work. Having a kid with severe food allergies and being a “food allergy mama” is like being a regular mom but on steroids. What do I mean by this? I mean it’s constantly being “on,” being vigilant and ready 24/7, having safe snacks everywhere you go, and knowing that every day you let your child out of your sight it is a true risk.

With that being said, I wouldn’t trade being a food allergy mom, or any kind of mom, for anything. It is the best job and has truly grown me in ways I could have never grown without these challenges.

I’ve decided to share a list of things not to say to a food allergy mom. Not just because even well-meaning comments can come across as rude or hurtful, but because a lot of people just don’t understand. So here we go!

1.) “I’m sure they’ll outgrow it.” This one stings the most and people that don’t have allergies usually don’t understand why. A lot of kids actually don’t outgrow their allergies, and it can make them, or their parents, feel like if they don’t outgrow them, then they did something wrong. This is one of those “unintentional” statements, but I would encourage others to avoid it.

2.) “Did you breastfeed? I bet if you breastfed your child wouldn’t have had allergies.” Yes, Karen, I did breastfeed and it changed nothing.

3.) “Maybe you need to just let your kid roll around in the dirt.” Yeahhhh, nope. That doesn’t work either.

4.) “Maybe you shouldn’t have used hand sanitizer.” That’s a great point, BUT my child developed allergies at 9 months old and had never had an ounce of it.

5.) “I didn’t invite your child to the party because we were having pizza and I knew your child has a dairy allergy.” Please don’t do this. I can assure you as a food allergy mama, we are prepared for those pizza parties! Just let us know ahead of time and we will make sure to bring a safe pizza so our child doesn’t have to miss out on the fun.

6.) “Do you think you should’ve eaten more allergens when you were pregnant?” I can assure you I was eating all the foods, ALL of them. Constantly. So nope! Not it.

7.) “Don’t you think you’re being too overprotective?” I wish so badly this were the case. It’s not…

8.) “I know your child is allergic to dairy, but a little cheese won’t harm them right?” YES. Even the tiniest speck of an allergen can cause a serious reaction.

9.) “Dairy isn’t a true allergy, more of an intolerance right?” THIS. So many people do not believe dairy is a true allergy. My daughter went into full blown anaphylaxis from dairy. So yes, dairy is a true allergen.

10.) “She just needs to be around her allergens more. Rub some peanut butter on her!” Y’all… these words were actually said to me. Please do not ever do this… it’s not only extremely hurtful but incredibly dangerous.

I know, I know… most of these comments seem like typical “Karen” questions, but a lot of these questions come from good-hearted people who just don’t know too much about allergies. So please, from a food allergy mama who is constantly fighting for her daughter, educate yourself. Think about others. But most importantly…. don’t be a Karen.

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Lindsay Stippich runs the blog Allergy Friendly Mama to serve as a resource and community for other moms of kids with allergies. Follow her at @allergyfriendlymama.