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Five Tips to Help Feed Your Toddler with Food Allergies

Posted by David 05/17/18 0 Comment(s) Kids in the Kitchen,

Feeding a Toddler With Food Allergies

Post by Abbie Jeffries, founder of Ollergy

 

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13th to 19th. Food allergies affect over 15 million Americans and are on the rise. As a parent to an almost-three-year-old with multiple food allergies, I’m here to share five tips to help feed your toddler with food allergies.

 

1.    Involve Them in Cooking

Providing dinner is difficult for any family. For food allergy families, the difficulty is increased when the option of grabbing take out simply isn’t there. We do A LOT of cooking. The thing that helps us the most is involving him in the process. His learning tower has a permanent home at the end of our island. He has his own kid-safe knives. He loves helping us cook. We do a big prep session on Sundays and he always joins in; chopping veggies, mixing ingredients, and snacking. It’s teaching him an important life skill (especially for someone with food allergies) and makes our life much easier as he is not underfoot whining the entire time. He’s also 100 times more likely to try anything he’s helped cook. Win-win!


2.    Make the Nutrients Fun


Food allergies mean restricted diets. Fun things like trips to an ice cream shop are out of the question. With a limited diet, I try to make sure everything my son eats is adding value to his diet. That’s not to say it’s not fun! One of his favorites right now? Chocolate smoothies, as he calls them. We blend hemp milk, coconut yogurt, frozen banana, cocoa powder, and a splash of maple syrup. Sometimes I add frozen avocado or chia seeds to pack some extra nutritional punch. A few of my other tricks? Shredded carrot and zucchini in meatloaf muffins, carrot “fries,” and tons veggies in homemade pasta sauce.
 

3.    Don’t be Afraid of Snacks
 

As a new-ish mom, I tried to resist snacks before dinner. Then I learned how “hangry” my toddler could get. The experienced me? Have allllllllllll the (healthy) snacks you want. Our evenings are hectic. I’m often starving by the time we sit down to eat, so I can only imagine how my child feels. Now, while we’re putting the finishing touches on dinner, he’s often in his tower snacking. We try to stick with healthy options like veggies and guac, but sometimes you’ll see a plate of crackers or rice roller. I’ve always resisted his request for pre-dinner chocolate chips at least! 
 

4.    Let them Assemble their Food

This works well with dishes that have a lot of parts; tacos are our favorite. Put all your ingredients in separate dishes on the table and let each person go to town. As one who likes neatness and order, I had a hard time with the giant mess but it was rather shocking to see how well my son eats what he puts on his own plate. This is how I learned he actually likes lettuce. 


5.    Always Allow a Dip


This is another new mom rule I quickly changed. I was that child who dipped everything in ketchup. I vowed my child wouldn’t be like that and honestly, I have no idea why. I’m blessed with a healthy eater. His favorite food was “squishy (steamed) carrots” for almost a year. Even so, if ketchup is what it takes to get him to eat some sliced peppers, so be it. I’m sure he won’t be doing it forever. I only draw the line at eating the ketchup-dipped blackberry myself when he offers to share. When diets are already really restricted due to food allergies, try not to add too many other restrictions yourself. 

 

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Abbie Jefferis is the founder of ollergy, a site dedicated to spreading food allergy awareness and helping families raise children with food allergies. Her son is allergic to peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, sunflower, sesame, and all legumes except soy and kidney bean. She can be reached at ollergy@gmail.com. For more information about food allergies, please visit www.ollergy.com, @ollergy on Instagram, and www.facebook.com/ollergy.

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