Gifts for Families with Allergies & Asthma

'Tis the season to give and receive, which can be a minefield to navigate, even without easily aggravated medical conditions. Here are a few general guidelines, which are frequently overlooked by well-meaning loved ones:
  • Always check with parents before purchasing a gift for a child, not, as the child is unwrapping, whisper, "I got XYZ, is that OK?" Don't make mom and dad the bad guys. Even better, ask for gift suggestions.
  • If anyone in the house has asthma, don't purchase anything plushy, no matter how adorable. Do you really want to be on the side of the dust mites?
  • If you are giving a toy with multiple parts or pieces, it's incredibly thoughtful to include a corresponding container to keep it in. For example, if giving LEGOs, buy a set that comes in a plastic box, or purchase a matching bucket.
  • I shouldn't even have to mention it, but never, ever offer food to an allergic child without checking with a parent first. That doesn't mean waving a piece of candy from across the room (and in the child's field of vision) and yelling, "Can s/he eat this?" If you simply must show your love by giving food, have a label in your hand and the parent's full attention. Seriously, don't mess this one up.
Now on to the shopping:
  • For the young music lover, check out Kyle Dine's album "You Must Be Nuts," which includes the superhero anthem "Epi-Man," the story of "Smellephant the Allergic Elephant," and the moving "Gluten Free Blues." You can preview the songs and either purchase or download the CD through his website KyleDine.com.
  • Any family that has members with food allergies is faced with budget busting grocery bills. A gift certificate to Allergy Grocers, Divvies, Peanut Free Planet, Home Free Treats (which is giving away cookies with each order this month) or Whole Foods will be very greatly appreciated.
  • Kids with Food Allergies has a very good selection of books geared toward allergic children, especially younger ones who are beginning school.
  • If you are searching for a cookbook for a family with the Milk-Egg-Nut allergy trifecta, the popular cookbook author, Linda Coss, has written a sequel, "What Else is to Eat?" which can be purchased, along with her earlier works, at Food Allergy Books.
  • This camera designed for kids is my top gift pick this year for my five year old son. Last year's winner was the Plan City Road & Rail Set from Plan Toys. I highly recommend all their products.
  • If you are one the very special people who is trusted to babysit an allergic child, then one of the best gifts you can give parents is a (relatively) worry free night out. If you can watch the kid(s) for a weekend, even better.
  • Finally, in the tradition of the holiday gift guides that always end with an incredibly expensive dream present, I suggest the all expense paid Disney vacation. The mouse has become the destination of choice for families who have children with food allergies for good reason. Alerting the staff at any of the Disney restaurants and resorts results in a personal chef trained in the arcane ways of food allergies and cross contamination (and who is able to recite the ingredients of every item on the menu) being sent to the table to personally take the allergic child's order. We experienced the treatment at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney in Orlando for The Kid's birthday this year. It was pricey, but worth it.
Don't forget that the holidays shouldn't just be about the stuff. Remember to cherish your families and pass on your traditions. Go ahead and create some new ones. May you and your loved ones have a safe and joyful holiday season!


Nowheymama said...

Great list!

Anne said...

That's a great list- sensitive to the parent and the child. There's nothing worse than people undermining your efforts to keep your kids safe. Thanks for the tips!

Stop by my blog and email me your address... you won my giveaway!

I love that birthday cake, by the way- it's perfect!

Anonymous said...

These are some great tips, especially for peeps like me who have some "allergic kids" on the holiday list but aren't as familiar with the "do's and don'ts".

allergic diner said...

A wonderful, wonderful list, especially tip #1! Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

These are great tips.....

Maggie said...

Great list! My head wants to explode everytime I get a family member shouting across a room, "Can Alex have this?"

Mamma Sarah said...

Great list!!!

Dana said...

What a fun blog, Holly H. sent me a link.
We have allergic kids and a newly adopted 1 year old who also has celiac's to top it off.
Thanks for the info!