Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Dreaded Sleepovers

It is difficult to put into words why a mother of a child with allergies is not fond of letting her child go to a friend's house for what most families take for granted as a regular,  normal, harmless, fun activity for their children.  Sleepovers.  Like I said, it is really hard to put into words all the scenarios of what could go bad that go through my head.  Unfortunately, a parent of a child with life threatening allergies has to go through all the scenarios.

My boys love to have sleepovers. For a long time, we would only allow sleepovers if the friends came to our home.  Of course, I want them to have fun.  But, I have to admit this is one of my least favorite activities.  It is a lot of work and takes quite a bit of courage on my part to let my son stay anyplace other than home.  But with great friends and understanding parents, and a lot of communication, we've been able to start letting our son stay at other homes.

Here are a few tips to help with this transition from the toddler safe at home to the big kids having sleepovers.

  • Start with a friend very close by in the same neighborhood.  That way, you are near by if needed.
  • If it is a birthday party/sleepover and there will be several children eating the same thing, get a list of what foods will be there and send food from home that will be similar.  Sometimes I even ask what color the frosting will be on the cake and send a cupcake from home with the same color frosting.
  • I like to send a enough treats to share.  That will help your child not feel singled out by eating something different.  Often, I make my pumpkin bread for the kids to eat for breakfast.  Go here for the recipe.
  • Make sure your child has played with this friend several times first and that you have had plenty of discussions with the parent about EpiPens and warning signs of reactions, what the allergies are, ect.  Don't let your child stay, if this is the first time the parent has experienced watching a child with allergies.
  • Pack food and have your child only eat what you have packed.  Unless you plan to stay and read every label, that's probably the safest.
  • Recently, a friend's mom wanted to supply all the food and made many efforts to shop and talk to me about what is safe and what is not.  This was so thoughtful and I am so grateful for her efforts. She even bought our son's favorite donuts from Kinnikinnick for everyone to have in the morning.  I couldn't help worry, even though we had gone over the list, what if someone grabs the wrong bag of chips or the wrong cookie.  I also didn't want our son to have a false sense of security and think that every food was safe.  We decided to put stickers on all the packages of foods my husband and I had checked.  This helped us to have more confidence that everything would go well at the sleepover.
It is so important to us to keep our son safe but at the same time find a balance so that he can just be a kid and focus on nerf gun wars, pillow fights, staying up late watching movies and just having fun.


  1. We have the exact same goal… “to keep our son safe but at the same time find a balance so that he can be a kid”. Sometimes we have to be creative in finding ways to let our son be a “regular” kid, but worth every moment when he gets to be like all of his friends. I just came across your blog, and look forward to learning more from you.
    Allergy Mum -

  2. Thank you for your comments, Allergy Mum! Glad you found me. Look forward to checking out your blog as well. And I agree, it is worth all the efforts to help our kids be a "regular" kid like their friends.