Planning meals for children can be challenging. You have to come up with a dish that is not only appealing to them but is also packed with nutritious ingredients that sometimes your child probably doesn’t like, and these difficulties grow tenfold when it comes to prepping meals for children with FPIES.

Most children grow out of FPIES before they hit school age, but for a child with FPIES who goes to school, interacting with their classmates and participating in activities can be a challenge.

As a parent, here are five unexpected things you can do to help your child living with FPIES have a more comfortable life at school:

Educating educators

Teachers must be aware of your child’s condition, after all, they will be the ones looking after them in school. There are plenty of resources and our very own ‘School Support for Teachers & Staff,’ can be used to help your child’s teachers learn about FPIES. Educators are usually more than willing to take the extra time to ensure the safety of their students because for many educators, according to Dr. Mark Lombardi, president of Maryville University: “Student success isn’t just the best measure of a highly successful education. It’s the only measure that matters”. Most teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that each student’s needs are being met and that all children feel included. The first step to making your child’s school safe for him or her is by getting the support of the teacher.

Give safe snacks to other kids

FPIES means that there are lots of foods that your child can’t eat. More often than not, it is food that is usually consumed by kids in school. To keep your kids from trying other kids’ snacks, consider giving out snacks for other kids to enjoy so your little one won’t feel left out. However, remember to ask their parents first before doing this, as you don’t want to accidentally give other kids their own trigger foods.

Make it a habit to check the label

Even when parents know what their kid’s food triggers are, it can still sometimes get past them because it’s hidden in packaged foods. To avoid this, WebMD suggests reading food labels all the time. It also pays to read the label of packaged foods that you’ve already think are safe every now and then, as companies sometimes change the ingredients in their foods.

Wipe everyone’s faces and hands

There is no way you can control what other kids eat, but what you can control is the food that gets in contact with your child. Whenever kids have to huddle or sit closely before or after eating, wipe every kids’ face and hands, as well as the tables. This will help in making sure that allergens that other kids may carry don’t get in contact with your child.

Plan ahead

With a kid that has FPIES, going out to eat isn’t always  an option, and often when it is, it can be limited. As such, make sure to plan ahead of time whenever there is a school trip or any similar activity. Think of what food to cook and shop for snacks and drinks early on. As much as possible, other FPIES parents from The Mighty suggests being prepared by packing every food your child may need when he or she is away from home.

Managing a kid with a food allergy, especially FPIES, can be extremely hard and stressful. However, with the right guides and resources, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Do check out our post ‘Living with FPIES: Advocating for Your Child in School and Childcare Settings’ for more tips and tricks when it comes to FPIES management.

This article is written for The FPIES Foundation by J Walsh.  Having only ever struggled with very manageable lactose intolerance herself, J Walsh didn’t quite care about food allergies until her young niece was diagnosed with celiac disease. Since then, she’s been reading up on other food restrictions and on how best to adapt to them. She’s a regular contributor to the FoodAllergies forum on Reddit and often writes about getting others onboard with dealing with food restrictions — especially with young kids.

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