What NOT to Share: A Back-to-School List for Food Allergic Kids

boy getting on back-to-school busHow many of you adore hand-me-downs, gently used items or family trades? I admit, I absolutely do. It’s like an untapped resource for unexpected gifts. The anticipation of going though the items to see what will fit and what kinds of items are hiding inside. Many of us love it but few actually own up to it.

But what happens when you have an allergic child who receives these golden goodies? The truth is, there are items that may not be safe to share. Thankfully, with all of the current research and information being passed along, we continue to have better odds at keeping our child’s allergic reactions to a minimum. A simple start is to consider things that you may not have in the past; the back-to-school items that are being distributed as we speak.

Backpacks– Every child needs one but who was the last child to have it? With food allergies, consider what the previous owner housed inside of that bag. After all, snacks and lunches are a daily part of the school day so what’s to say that a previously-owned backpack might not have traces of those foods in them. Bags break, drinks spill and special classroom goody bags tend to open up between the time they were given out and when they actually made it home. If you have a child with food allergies, this might be something that cannot be chanced.

Water Bottles & Thermos– Yes, we all love to get the cute little character thermos or the pink and sparkly princess cup for our children but a sip from these may turn into a drinking disaster. Yes, these items can be washed and even run through the dishwasher but allergens have a sneaky little secret- they like to hide in hard to reach places. These crevices cannot always be made safe enough for your child with food allergies. There has even been reported proof that heat does not always get rid of allergic particles. Instead of getting excited about the brightly colored items, become enthusiastic about keeping your child safe instead.

back-to-school lunchboxesLunchboxes- Same scenario, different shape. Don’t get me wrong, as a parent you cannot help but have an overwhelming need to want to give these items to your child, especially if their favorite new show is plastered all over the front of it. But alas, think back to when your child had their last lunchbox; how many days did it come home with food particles and dripping from the day’s accidental overturn?

Calculators- Yes, your eyes did not deceive you- calculators. Simple fact about calculators- they come with many, many tiny areas that foods can be hiding out. This also includes school issued calculators. If you have a choice, purchase your own and label it clearly with your child’s name so there is no confusion about who it belongs to. If budget is an issue, check the flyers for coupons and ask if you can use someone’s business discount card for an office supply store. After all, the price of your child’s life is still worth more than buying an overpriced school item.

Glue Sticks- And by this I mean those leftovers from the end of last school year that somebody started to use but didn’t finish. Why avoid them? Glue is sticky and it’s another way for food particles to get trapped, literally. And if you are a parent who has attended one of those crafty class parties, you have seen how fast the glue sticks travel to and fro. Luckily, glue sticks are one of the cheaper school items that you can find at any dollar store or even included in the lower sale priced items in back-to-school sales.

Band Instruments- This is a personal pet peeve of mine anyway because as much as someone can tell me they have thoroughly cleaned an instrument, they still cannot tell me that it’s the cleanest thing to share. I know it may silently kill your pocket book when you are weighing the cost of a new instrument versus a used one but stop and look at your child- would you chance saving those extra dollars instead of saving their life? It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Being a parent is always difficult, whether your child has food allergies or not. We all have to spend a lot of time thinking of how we can keep our children protected from anyone and anything. Our hearts go with them each and every day that they leave us. And although we are brought up being told that it’s nice to share, sometimes it’s nicer not too.

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at www.AllergyPhoods.com. Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


10 Responses to “What NOT to Share: A Back-to-School List for Food Allergic Kids”

  1. GAIL VANZILE says:


    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      We think she’s fantastic too! We couldn’t be happier to have her on our team. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  2. Heather Johnson says:

    This is a wonderful reminder on information to share with my child that is going into the 1st grade! Great article can’t wait for the next one.



  3. Heather Johnson says:

    Such a wonderful article of information. It is great information to pass on to my child in 1st grade!



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