Wednesday 27 January 2016

Open letter to non-allergy parents

Dear non-allergy parent,

Let me begin with an apology, I am sorry that you find food allergies inconvenience you, trust me - I can understand that! As a family since having Isabelle allergies are now a massive part of our lives every. single. day.

For 11 weeks we had no idea that our little baby was reacting to my breastmilk because of things I was eating or drinking, those 11 weeks were really hard and looking back I'm unsure how we managed with so little sleep. She wasn't just your average bad night time sleeping baby, she was a terrible sleeper in the day too. She would scream when she was put down, she hated laying on her back and taught herself to roll onto her front really quickly - we now know that she would of actually have been in pain with her tummy and being on her front helped to relieve some of the pain! Clever babies. Did mean that my lovely pram didn't get used much though as she wouldn't lie in it.
She's now at an age where she wants to eat what the other children are eating, without her being able to fully understand although I've always told her 'makes you poorly', let's face it she's not a genius - she's a 22 month old little girl who wants to get her hands on that tasty looking food your child has got and rightly so I might add - I'm glad your child doesn't have allergies, I wouldn't wish them to and I'm not 'jealous' that your child can eat foods without reacting to them, obviously I wish my little girl could too.

Basically the reason for this post is that I so desperately need to relax while at toddler groups [not relax as in lay back with a book, relax as in spend time with my daughter happily, without worry] and not have to continuously watch your child's food while we are at a toddler group. I'm watching my child already, I've only got one set of eyes and they're really tired eyes actually! That's not your fault and I don't want your sympathy for my sleepless nights - I want your understanding or even just your desire to understand.

I'd also like to highlight there's also other really important reasons to not eat during a toddler group - not just allergies, it's surely better to teach our children to go the duration of the class without snacking on food and to eat at 'real' meal times, just like our parents would of taught us, I know that's not always possible as sometimes children graze throughout the day but while doing a class there's also the danger of your child choking on the food - what then? And finally - what about the little boy next to your child who will then have a tantrum they want food but the tired mother has forgotten to bring something and then has to deal with her child probably not understanding and having a complete meltdown in front of everyone. Not good for that mum - what if she's feeling rather down lately and just can't deal with another problem of any size??
It's not even just my child that this upsets me about, I know plenty of allergy mums who avoid groups all together. Why should their child miss out on a group that will benefit their development and help them to make those first friendships just because another child cannot go 30 minutes without eating.

My daughter is not going to miss out because I'm going to stand up and I am going to say something. I pay good money for this group too, so my little girl has every right to enjoy it and really you've paid for this too so why not get your moneys worth and leave the snacks until after?

It's not only the fear my child may run over to yours and grab the food off them... I'm not going to lie, she really likes food and she's a cheeky little monkey it really is a possibility. It's also that your child could have a cheese sandwich for example then picks up a toy and kisses it or rubs there cheese hands all over it, then along comes allergy child to pick up the same toy - possibly even the next class you never know and kisses the cheese area... then there's a random rash? Some children react with contact and that's something not many people realise, they can also react to particles in the air - thankfully Isabelle doesn't.

So here's the reason I get so grumpy about this - when Isabelle reacts it means she has an eczema flare up, a spotty rash too, shes looks like a teenager with bad acne, she gets itchy skin and it's horrible to watch her claw her back, terrible nappies -think dark green like grass and they had blood in before I went dairy free.. See I breastfed Isabelle and she reacted to milk with just a trace through breastmilk. She's never had milk directly so I honestly do not know how bad her reactions would be. It also means at least a few nights of no sleep for us because she will be up screaming in pain all night with a rock hard tummy and terrible wind. Then Michael has to go to work having had no sleep, I have to look after her like a zombie and Oliver well he usually sleeps through falling out of the bed so I won't lie but he is often tired if she's reacted so I wonder if it disturbs him too. It's not her fault of course and we all know that.

As a mother my aim is to protect my children so yes I may be a little guarded when it comes to foods being near her but this is my comfort zone, I've decided what it is and not you... It may well be an over reaction but it's better to be safe than sorry and well, she's my baby. You would be the same!

To the mums who ask me to go to a coffee shop with our toddlers please don't think I'm rude or that I don't want to be your friend... we could always do with more friends!... I just can't bare the idea of taking Isabelle somewhere she can watch the other children eat a tasty piece of cake while she has to have something she would usually just have at home.

To the mums who have asked Isabelle for lunch please read the above too. I would love for our children to have play dates just there's nothing for her to eat there.

The idea of a party..... oh. my. word........ The party food - the cake - the party bags! - other children's messy cake hands! oh..

Next time you're at a group, maybe just take a moment to think about children who have allergies.... I know a lot of people who don't speak up like I do and either just put up with the risk or stop attending the group. Let's not let that happen.

Mary-Kate, x Brilliant blog posts on


  1. Really appreciate this post. My daughter doesn't have allergies so to be honest I don't know much about it. But reading your post, I can imagine how tiring it must be to be constantly on alert ... you have a beautiful family and you sound like such a dedicated Mum :) x #brilliantblogposts

  2. Thank you for this! You wrote exactly what I think all the time and I'm pretty vocal about it. My son goes through the exact same thing.


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