Your Child Just Got The Allergy Diagnosis: Now What?

After a long journey with confusing symptoms, we recently found out that my middle daughter has food allergies, including cow’s milk and egg whites.

And although I was a bit relieved to finally have an answer for my daughter’s pain, the diagnosis completely threw me for a loop. What did the allergies mean? How severe are they? Will we need an Epi-Pen? What do I cook now? The process has been overwhelming and exhausting and if you’re a mom who just got an allergy diagnosis with your child, you probably know exactly what I mean. Here are a few things you can expect on your allergy journey:

  • Join an online support group. First things first, you’re going to need all the support you can get, so find yourself an online support group where you can find support whenever you need, even if it’s 3 AM in the morning. Even if you just do a search on Facebook for an allergy mom group near you, I promise you you won’t regret it. I joined an allergy group for moms with children of allergies and although I haven’t asked a lot of questions just yet, I have been so thankful to see that other mothers have had the same issues, struggles, and questions as I have. Knowing I am not alone is giving me the strength to move forward.
  • Talk to real-life allergy mothers. One of the superpowers of allergy moms is that they make navigating life with allergies look almost effortless. These are moms who will literally do anything for their children, including baking safe treats for classroom parties, bringing their own cupcakes to birthdays, and even carting their own snacks around, just in case. But once your eyes are opened to those real-life allergy moms, you might be surprised at how many there are around you. And another allergy mom superpower? They are more than willing to share everything they know with you.
  • Check in with your insurance company. Unfortunately, an allergy diagnosis means extra health care needs, which means you’ll want to check in with your insurance company to see what you can expect. Assess what is covered and what costs you will be responsible for, so you won’t get any more surprises.
  • Make a plan. One of the first things you need to know is make a plan for your child’s allergies. Include him or her in the plan, role-play what to do if he/she encounters an allergy situation when you aren’t there, and make copies of the plan for your child’s school and caregivers. If your child will need an Epi-Pen, make sure everyone is trained who may encounter your child and check what the school policies are for Epi-Pens on the property.
  • Find an allergy specialist. If you haven’t already, get into see an allergy specialist for your child. A specialist can be helpful in guiding you on elimination diets, reactions, and how to manage your child’s allergies.
  • Get a food journal. Our tests determined that our daughter’s allergies are not anaphylactic at the moment, which I am very grateful for, but after meeting with a specialist, I was left with more questions than answers, because I really don’t know for sure what kind of reaction she is having and what food is causing it. If you’re at the beginning of your allergy journey, it may be helpful to start a food journal, documenting everything your child eats and what reactions he or she develops, including how long after the food they ate the symptoms develop. Writing everything down might help you see reactions that tests just can’t pick up.
  • Start small. One of the hardest things about finding out our daughter has allergies is how overwhelming all of the changes feels to me. By this point, I’ve gotten into a groove as a parent and now? I feel like I have re-learn everything all over again. Whenever I start to think of everything my daughter can’t eat, I feel like giving up. So instead of focusing on what she can’t have or what I have to change, in this stage, while we are still processing the changes, we are focusing on the small ways we can change. That has meant sticking to one “safe” breakfast, making small changes as a family, and keeping dinners simple. Eventually, I know we will get more creative and branch out with more foods and snacks, but for now? Keeping the changes small and simple is all I can handle at the moment.

No matter where you are at in your allergy journey, just remember to give yourself some grace and time to adjust, because allergies affect the entire family. You’re doing great mama and you’ve just joined a tribe of superheroes. Welcome.