If one of your children is allergic to something, do you keep it in the house for other members of the family to enjoy? Or do you refuse to bring it home from the grocery store — ever?
We asked two Scratch or Sniff staffers — founder Roo Ciambriello and writer Tiffany Self — how they handle the peanut situation in their respective homes, since they both have peanut-allergic kids.
Do you keep peanuts products in your home, even though your child has a peanut allergy?
Tiffany says … Absolutely not.
My son goes out into the world every day with the possibility of being exposed to allergens that could kill him or seriously mess him up physically and emotionally for days, weeks, or months. Why in the world would I make our home anything less than a safe zone for him?
In the meantime, I’ve learned to cook with great substitutes for his allergens and I teach him what to look for out in the “real world” by sharing how many people use eggs in lasagna and meatloaf, but that these are safe dishes at home. I’m always educating him, and it’s always done in the safety of our allergen-free kitchen.
To the point that we, the general public, keep other items that are unsafe in our homes (i.e., household cleaners, sharp knives, and so forth): it is true. We do; but many of us handle this by “baby proofing” our homes when these items become threats to our increasingly curious toddlers. And then we teach them why these items are unsafe and how to properly handle them so they no longer pose a risk.
There is no way that my son’s allergens will ever be safe for him to handle. I didn’t hand him a glass of bleach to possibly swallow when he was a toddler, and I won’t hand him a jar of peanut butter to this day.
At nine, he is more than capable of navigating his way through the minefield of his allergens “out there.” For that, I’m thankful. I committed long ago that my home would always be a safe place for him, a place he should not have to navigate for safety and security. My home will always be a place where he can put his guard down and know that he does not have to worry for one moment that what he is about to put into his mouth will kill him.
Roo says … We do!
We do, mainly because we’re looking out for more than just peanuts. We have three daughters; two of them are allergic to a long list of items. Combined, that list is peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, sesame, mustard, coconut, and poppy. It’s a lot to manage, but keeping our house peanut-free or allergen-free isn’t something that we’ve done, although we’re certainly not opposed to it.
My husband and I work a lot of hours. Between work and parenting and household duties and handling the responsibilities that come along with food allergies, our plates (pun!) are full. It’s really easy for us to grab a protein bar (with peanuts inside) before running to a meeting. We make coffee for friends and offer to put cream in it.
That said, we are very, very careful.
+ We have a specific drawer that is for granola bars and protein bars. The girls know to not even touch that drawer.
+ I don’t cook anything on their allergen list. As much as I’d love to have to eggs over easy in the morning, I’m worried that the steam that rises can somehow affect my egg-allergic daughter. Same goes for other allergens.
+ The only dairy we keep in the house is a little carton of half and half. The girls know not to touch it and it stays a solid distance from anything else they eat in the fridge.
+ If any of us eat something someone else is allergic to (the girls aren’t allergic to the same things, so this applies to them also), we wash hands and brush teeth and use baby wipes on just about everything.
+ If it can’t be prepped and served on a paper plate, we forgo it altogether.
+ Bags of nuts, yogurt, peanut butter pie, everything bagels, cheesecake baking in the oven? Nope. Granola bar in its own wrapper in its own drawer? Sure!
While my girls are empowered and will even ask me twice before trying something new “Mom, you read the label, right?” the onus is still on me and their dad to protect them. It’s why we’ve put systems in place to keep them safe! The plus side is that they don’t let their guard down, and they don’t assume every food in the house is safe for them to eat or touch. We don’t want them to start eating something without reading labels or asking parents. Tiffany makes a great argument, though, and maybe we’ll revisit our policy altogether!
Thanks for sharing your perspectives, Tiffany and Roo! Now we want to hear from everyone else.
If your child is allergic to a food, do you keep it in the house or do you ban it?