4 Tips to Help You Not Only Survive the Holiday Season With a Baby With Food Allergies or Intolerances but Enjoy It!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Except for we’re in a world pandemic.
And you’re on lockdown.
And your baby has food allergies or intolerances.
And people think they understand but they don’t.
2020 sure looks different this holiday season, but amidst all the changes going on in the world and adjusting to the “new normal,” your baby with food allergies or intolerances is your number one concern.
When you’re at home it’s easy to control everything. You know you’re not accidentally eating a trigger food if you’re breastfeeding or your baby being fed unsafe foods. You’ve found your staple products and you cook at home, so you know you and your baby are safe.
It can be challenging enough traveling with a baby somewhere else, let alone a baby with food allergies or intolerances. How about the big question of, “what will we eat during family get-togethers?”
Below we’ll go over 4 tips to help make this holiday season more enjoyable. Although it can be challenging, it’s possible to still enjoy these precious moments and time with family.
1. Offer to Host the Get-Together
You read that correctly – offer to host the get together with family and friends.
While this may cause some stress, you’ll be able to control the food that’s served and be in the comfort of your own home. Not having to travel may be appealing enough with a baby!
When hosting you can assure you and your baby are not getting any unsafe foods. Many people will likely be unable to tell the food is allergy-free, depending on what allergies or intolerances your baby may have.
Have guests bring non-food items to make it even easier. Ask them to bring items like napkins, paper plates, or crafts for the kids.
Hosting in your home can be just what you need to truly sit back and enjoy the holidays with loved ones. You might have a little more to prepare and clean up afterward, but it’ll be worth it knowing you and your baby are allergy-free.
2. Traveling Tips for Your Baby with Allergies or Intolerances
Maybe hosting isn’t an option for your family and you’re going to travel. Depending on the age of your baby and the severity of the allergies or intolerances here are a few tips to help you prepare.
Making sure you have all the necessary medications will help you in case of an emergency. You can do everything to prepare yourself and your little one, but it’s always good to have a backup plan.
Packing your food ahead of time can alleviate a lot of stress and worry. Label and place your items in a designated area. Having snacks ready to eat can help you feel like you aren’t missing out since so much of the holidays seemed to be focused on food.
When you go into a different city, it’s a good idea to know where the nearest grocery store is if you’re unable to pack or prepare items ahead of time. This way when you arrive you can send the husband or significant other out to get a few staple items and you’ll be set. It’s also a good idea to know where the nearest hospital is. This is a worst-case scenario but will likely ease your mind.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Vocal About Your Baby’s Allergies Or Intolerances
Having a baby with allergies or intolerances can feel like you live in a different world compared to other people. Sometimes people just don’t understand the seriousness of allergies or intolerances in infants. You know because you’ve lived with the constant crying, rashes, or bloody stools. And you’ve worked hard to get to baseline.
Many times family members can downplay allergies or intolerances. Especially intolerances, because they aren’t “true allergies.” If this isn’t your first rodeo and your second baby with allergies or intolerances then you know how it goes.
Your Grandma says, “well just a little won’t hurt her.”
Your husband’s Aunt Sue says, “it’s just one bite.”
Cousin Ava thought there wasn’t dairy in the pumpkin pie.
And the list could go on and on.
You might feel like a broken record but don’t hold back telling friends and family that your baby can’t have anything except what you brought. You might get some looks or eye rolls but hold strong Mama, you know best. If you feel up to it, you can even joke around and say something like, “you can stay up with him all night when he’s crying from that one bite if you don’t think I’m joking.”
There is no shame in speaking up about your baby and situation.
Some moms have even bought bibs that say, “Don’t Feed Me!” If a grandma or aunt wishes to feed the baby, give them the safe snacks and watch the fun.
4. It’s Okay To Say No To Family Gatherings
Finally, give yourself and your family permission to say “No” this holiday season. Talk to your significant other and if that’s what feels right, do it. If all options other than staying home bring on anxiety and unmanageable stress, then it’s time to put your family first – not others’ expectations.
Remember, you don’t need to have some big long story about saying no. Keep it short and sweet.
“We’re staying home to be extra safe this year since our baby has allergies.”
“Although we’d love to see you, we’re staying home this year because of COVID.”
“We’ll be starting our own traditions at home this year, but we’ll be sure to call.”
Depending on your community, COVID alone can be a reason not to travel. Add a baby with allergies or intolerances and it’s all the more reason to cozy up at home.
Start new traditions or do something extra special to make sure the memories last a lifetime. Not seeing family can be hard, but it doesn’t have to damper the joy of the holiday season.
Give Yourself Some Grace This Year For The Holidays
Whatever you and your family decide to do this holiday season, remember to be kind to yourself. This time of year can be difficult to begin with, let alone the strange year 2020 has brought to all of us.
If you’re up for hosting at home and that sounds appealing then go for it! Start looking up some delicious recipes, making the grocery list, and having a wonderful time in your own home. If traveling is what you decide make sure to prepare a little to make it easier for you and your baby.
And remember, don’t be shy about being vocal about your baby’s allergies or intolerances. It’s not something to be scared or ashamed of, as it’s out of your control. It’s okay saying “no” to family get-togethers and you shouldn’t feel bad about it either.
If dancing around the Christmas tree with your family and children sounds perfect, then do it. This season is a time for giving. You need to give yourself some grace too and cherish the memories being made this holiday season.