When our baby was diagnosed with food allergies at 7 months old, we knew immediately that we would have to educate his older twin brothers and teach them how to be their little brother's advocate.
We are never far from our food allergy baby, but anything can happen in a split second and having a second set (or two-second sets) of eyes to help protect our baby is beneficial.
Food Allergies: It's a Family Affair
Educating our children about food allergies
I love to volunteer at my children's school and thankfully the school welcomes our baby as part of their family, so I can be there as much as my schedule allows. Volunteering at an elementary school with a baby that has multiple food allergies, though, can be risky.
Our baby just turned one year old and is at the age of putting anything and everything in his mouth. This also includes known food allergens. Watching his every step at school is challenging, but add to that another 250 children eating around him, doting over him, and doing what they think is helpful to him can be downright dangerous.
To help protect our baby, we taught our twins about their little brother's known allergens. We helped them memorize the names of each allergen and where hidden allergens can be found. The added responsibility of protecting their little brother has also strengthened our twins' confidence. After all, they know this can be a life or death situation.
Recognizing the signs of an allergic reaction
For some, an allergic reaction to a food allergen can be mild and uncomfortable, but not severe. For others, an allergic food reaction can be frightening and even life-threatening. Thankfully, for our little baby, his reactions have only been itching, eczema, and diarrhea.
But what if? What if one of his food allergies triggers a more severe reaction like swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat, or other parts of the body? What if he faints, loses consciousness, or goes into anaphylactic shock?
We had to teach our children how to recognize an allergic reaction, how to recognize the early onset of an allergic reaction, and which steps and medication need to be administered to keep the reaction as minimal as possible.
Our boys know how to check their little brother's skin for eczema, to watch for swelling and breathing difficulties, and to look for signs of losing consciousness like blue skin and lips. If they do recognize any of these signs, they know to immediately find an adult and explain that their little brother is having an allergic reaction, to find their little brother's medication and to administer the correct dose, and to call 911.
Taking protection to a new level
Nothing melts my heart more than watching my twins protect their little brother, even if it is overkill at times. My twins don't let anyone but mom and dad feed their little brother, and they both have the confidence to educate others about their little brother's food allergies. Our twins have even been known to block others from even coming near little brother if that person has food in their hands.
Food allergies are not only an individual condition but also a family condition. The fact that our twins take his food allergy condition as seriously as we do is reassuring that we are in this as a family.