Hey guys, it’s me again: The Allergy Mom. Like all food-allergy parents, I breathed a big sigh of relief when we got through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without any reactions from my egg and dairy allergic daughters. Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet. Valentine’s Day is approaching.
Most people look forward to this holiday and all of the sweet treats, but food-allergy parents often dread it. We don’t just worry about our children ingesting something that could cause them to go into anaphylactic shock, unfortunately it’s more than that. We also dread the look on their faces when they learn that the treats their well-meaning classmates placed in their Valentine’s bags are not safe for them. Now that 1 in 13 children in the US have food allergies, it is important that we think about these children’s safety (and their desire to fit in) when we pass out Valentine’s treats. So, I’ve compiled a list of Valentine’s treats that are free of the top 8 allergens and allow all children to feel included.
Although it is possible to be allergic to any fruit, fruits are not considered one of the top 8 allergens (wheat, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, coconut, soy, and egg). Fruit is a fun, healthy alternative to candies and chocolates, and fruits like apples, bananas, and clementines are affordable, even when buying in large quantities. Decorating them with cute messages or stickers makes these healthy treats even more fun!
School, Craft, or Art Supplies
Crayons, pencils, paints, rulers, stickers, and highlighters are great alternatives to food treats. Some people collect broken crayons and melt them into heart shapes using molds. There are lots of “punny” sayings that you can pair with these gifts, and since every child has a need for school supplies, these are valentines that will actually be used.
The Target Dollar Spot and The Dollar Store are great places to find trinkets for an affordable price. Items such as fun straws, animal figurines, bubbles, yo-yos, and glow sticks are sure please! You can even come up with fun little sayings to go along with the treats, just search Pinterest!
If your child insists on bringing a candy with his or her valentines, there are some safe options. My girls safely eat most sweets from YumEarth, Surf Sweets, and Enjoy Life, all found on Amazon or at local grocery stores. The companies specialize in creating sweet treats that are free of all major allergens. As with any food, consult with your child’s teacher to make sure that these candies will be safe for all students.
A Sweet Valentine’s Note
Don’t have the time, energy, or resources to create any of the valentines mentioned above? Well, there’s an easy and inexpensive alternative: old-school Valentines! Ask your child to write his or her classmates a nice note or draw them a special picture. Perhaps they could write their favorite memory of each friend or give everyone a nice compliment. After all, the feeling you get when someone says something nice about you lasts longer than candy!