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Treating siblings differently re: food allergies

(32 Posts)
BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Sat 11-Jun-11 23:23:40

DS1 (2yrs) is allergic to eggs and nuts but DS2 (11mo) doesn't appear to be, he hasn't reacted to anything with egg in it, though we've kept him away from anything with nuts in it so far.

DS2 is nearly 1 and I'd like to do him a proper birthday cake, but of course it would have eggs in it. So I've bought some egg replacer powder and am going to have a go with that (any tips welcome!) but it got me thinking - is DS2 going to have to miss out on all the yummy things that have egg in them (cake, cookies, brownies, pancakes) so that DS1 doesn't feel jealous that he can't have them?

So do I treat them differently, allowing DS2 to eat normal foods and giving DS1 a suitably exciting substitute when necessary or do I not allow DS2 to have the egg/nut foods because I don't want to upset DS1?

TBH its not really an issue in the house, we never buy eggs and don't buy anything with them in for us to eat as a family. But, when out in a cafe when they are older, should I stop DS2 from having a muffin because DS1 can't also have one?

greencolorpack Sat 11-Jun-11 23:29:43

Life is much simpler and easier if the whole family is eating the same thing, so I would say you should just get used to DS2 not getting to eat the "yummy" things. I find life much easier. I have three, dd is allergic to dairy, and dn and ds are not allergic but dn doesn't like eggs and ds none of them like fish. So I hardly ever have fried eggs, I hardly ever cook with cheese and don't buy fish any more even though I'm partial to it myself.

I've completely given up on buying ice cream - but then ice cream is problematic for many reasons and just saying no is the simplest thing. I hate hassle, and will do anything to avoid it. Tried for a while buying fruit based ices but they still made dd ill, I think concentrated fruit has an ill effect on her along with milk. So - life's too short - just don't buy it.

Sometimes I will make a meal that dd can't have but I add the dairy ingredients after I've taken her food out. So - like I made courgette and brie soup. Dd got the courgette soup, then I put the brie in to melt and everyone else had courgette and brie soup. Since dd's allergy I've almost completely given up cheese based sauces. It's probably more healthy that way.

Your ds won't miss out, he will go to other people's houses and have freedom of choice with school dinners. Eating out should be alright in that he can order whatever he likes.

BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Sat 11-Jun-11 23:41:49

So if we're eating out or in a cafe we should let DS2 choose whatever he likes, DS1 choosing something egg/nut free?

What about birthday cakes? No cake and have birthday jelly?? Attempt to make egg free cake (am sceptical about my ability on this front if I'm honest!)? Normal cake with substitute for DS1?

greencolorpack Sat 11-Jun-11 23:53:32

Yes, let your son choose what he likes. At restaurants you may be faced with no options at all for ds1, so you might need to phone ahead and find out what they might serve that he can have.

Egg free cakes are possible, what about finding some allergy specific cook books? I bought "Dairy, egg and gluten free cookbook" for a phase when my son's school were convinced they could cure his nasty Asperger's if he only stopped eating evil gluten and dairy. (Surprise surprise! They couldn't.) Weirdly it was just after all that faddy eating that dd developed her illness that led to a dairy intolerance, so I still use that cookbook.

Its a big faff to start with but once you've learnt a few recipes you get to know what works and then can just do them regularly.

BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Sat 11-Jun-11 23:59:07

Not sure I'll learn the subtleties of the art of the egg free cake by next week though sad

greencolorpack Sun 12-Jun-11 00:21:43

Get them to love jelly (or whatever it is they can both have). Don't indulge either of them if they start whining about what they can't have! I have lectured my dd for years- I'm sorry, I say but suck it up, you can't have dairy, it's unfair of you to try and emotionally blackmail everyone else into feeling bad because you can't have something.

I also refuse to allow my children to speak in a self-important manner in front of friends about the things they don't like or can't eat. So while their friends are going on about what they can't eat in self-important voices, my children don't join in. I wish more parents would ban the "I don't like..." conversations, I find them tedious in the extreme.

So redefine what is a "treat" in your house, and pretend that chocolate cakes don't exist. If the food isn't lying around the house they can't argue about eating it.

Maelstrom Sun 12-Jun-11 00:35:27

We don't cook different meals at home, it is easier to ensure DS's food is up to standard when we are all eating the same.

We also do it out of solidarity, it is really hard to go through life not being able to share with other people so we do the same to show him we understand what he is going through... and also, because we have had some good scares out of transcontamination so we are not taking any unnecessary risks.

I don't think joining him in the allergen free diet is a bad thing, at the end of the day, he faces the reality of his own allergies everywhere he goes, so if he can have a rest from it all when he is with us, so be it smile

Maelstrom Sun 12-Jun-11 00:41:42

for the cake, you can substitute eggs with the replacer or you can also use a mixture of mashed banana and orange juice in their place.

One thing I used to do, was to have a cake in two layers (think mini wedding cake). The bottom layer was regular cake, the smaller top one the allergen free (placed on a plate/plastic surface and then onto the first layer). DS would get the top mini cake as the special birthday boy and the rest will get the normal cake. He enjoyed that.

It came the time when he really wanted to share his food, and be with the other children. For a long time he asked for a Thomas cake which he couldn't have, at the end, when he was 4 he suggested to get the Thomas cake to distribute between his friends and for him to be served his normal allergen free one.

savoycabbage Sun 12-Jun-11 00:50:59

Don't make two cakes for a birthday for your own child! You might end up doing that time and time again for other people's birthdays so you might as well give your ds1 the opportunity in sharing the actual birthday cake when you are in control of the situation.

Like Green says, you have to suck it up. None of us wants our children to be allergic to anything, but they are. When they get older they do accept that they can't have everything that other people are having.

I used to take different food for my dd to parties so that she didn't feel left out.

She is 7 now and we are going down the route that she has to know that she can't have things sometimes. And that's that.

trixymalixy Sun 12-Jun-11 01:33:15

Both my kids are allergic to egg. DS is allergic to milk , DD isn't. At home they eat exactly the same.

DS is going to have to get used to other kids being able to have things he can't , so if there's something DD can have but DS can't then DD can have it and we will find something DS can have.

Neither get ice cream when we are out, but I have told friends that their kids should go ahead and have ice cream even if mine can't. I only ever make one egg free cake for everyone.

Egg free cakes are a bit hit and miss in my experience. Leave time for a second try. My most successful have been flora's famous courgette cake and lemon and poppy seed muffins using egg replacer.

trixymalixy Sun 12-Jun-11 01:40:57

Oh and the pirate ship cake on my profile is egg and dairy free. No reason for the cake to not look and taste good.

freefrommum Sun 12-Jun-11 10:55:21

This is a very interesting discussion. My 4 yr old son is allergic to milk, wheat, egg & nuts while my 10 yr old daughter never had any food problems until a few mths ago when we found out she's coeliac. I have to say that I don't agree with the idea of cutting out all the stuff my children can't eat at home as I believe they need to accept the fact that other people can eat things that they can't, simple as that. I also think it gives a false sense of security eg that eating someones else's food is ok because at home it is but not outside the home (too confusing in my mind). My kids know that they can never eat someone else's food, at home or anywhere else. I do try to cook family meals that we can all eat as often as possible because it's easier than having to cook 3 different meals. However, quite often it's just not practical for us to eat the same things, especially when we're out and about. My son has no problems at all with his allergies so far and is never bothered by the fact that he can't have certain foods because he's never known any different (and he's still young!) but my daughter is still struggling with the fact that she will never be able to have 'normal' bread, cakes, biscuits etc and does sometimes get upset. Like greencolourpack I explain to her that yes, it's unfair but that's life and she's just got to get on with it and I won't tolerate tears and tantrums. It was my daughter's birthday recently and we took her & 6 friends to Frankie & Benny's as I knew there was a meal she could safely eat there but we bought a 'normal' birthday cake (not gluten free) just for her to blow out the candles and put in the girls' party bags. I didn't see any point in paying twice as much for a gluten free cake just for the sake of 1 slice (she's not even that keen on birthday cake). I bought her a big bar of her favourite chocolate instead.

I guess what I'm saying is, for your egg-allergic child I would try making an egg-free birthday cake but for your non-allergic child when it's their birthday, let them eat cake with egg in it and offer your allergic child something else, explaining why they can't eat the cake. Why should everyone in the family miss out on food with eggs in just because one child has an allergy? That's not real life is it? I think it's important to learn how to carefully manage the issues of cross-contamination in the home so that you can pass this knowledge on to others when your child gets older and goes to friends' houses. It's not easy but I don't think total avoidance is the answer. I hope your little one has a lovely birthday and good luck with the cake!

greencolorpack Sun 12-Jun-11 11:54:13

Freefrommum, that's a good idea, giving a chocolate bar instead of making two separate cakes for the sake of one slice!

I'm relieved people here agree with me about saying you have to just get on with it. The thing that gets to me is when well-meaning strangers offer dd a biscuit, and she can't have one, and they say "Awwwww, poor you" and then everyone joins in on the big old pity party, and then dd makes a poor mouth at me, and it's like, everybody look at the bad person! (This is on occasions where you had no idea there was going to be food offered, and you didn't bring any cos you don't believe in snacks between meals generally. And its totally random as to whether there's a non dairy option or not).

Weta Sun 12-Jun-11 12:48:59

I think it's probably one of those things each family has to work through for itself...

In our case DS1 (7) is allergic to dairy and DS2 (nearly 4) is fine.

For our normal food we basically all eat the same, but the rest of us might put cheese on our bolognese sauce for example, and cheese will be one option out on the table for sandwiches along with at least one dairy-free thing. If we make pizzas we do one dairy free and one with cheese. Whenever DS1 is away we do take the opportunity to have lasagne or something very dairy-laden though smile

Obviously your DS is a bit small at the moment (though at 2 you can probably still manage to hide a lot from him) but in the longer term I've found it good to talk with DS about substitutes he's happy with. So ice creams out are always tricky, but to be honest he's more than happy with Coke as a substitute. Though mostly DS2 wants to copy DS1 so will often opt to have Coke with him anyway!

I guess my approach is mostly to all have the same but to substitute where this is impossible. So for birthday cake I think it is pretty hard to do a good egg-free cake (have tried as he used to be allergic to eggs too) and I would be inclined to get him to accept a substitute. But a dairy-free cake is fine, so in my case I will do that for DS2 as well and just limit the icing/decoration to dairy-free options.

I agree with the others that the allergic child does have to learn to cope, but I also try to limit the number of occasions where coping is required smile
It's important that the allergic child learns to accept substitutes or it will make life very hard for them - at school DS1's teacher has a box of individually wrapped cakes for him to have when others turn up with a birthday cake, and he's mostly ok with that apart from the odd sad moment.

greencolorpack I know what you mean! I just say 'oh it's ok, he can have a treat when he gets home instead' in a breezy voice as if it's really no big deal - I always mean to have a spare lollipop in my bag for such situations but mostly forget...

RoseC Sun 12-Jun-11 14:59:21

I am in your DS2's position. My sister had several skin allergies and was rotated on diets that excluded, at various points, dairy (inc. chocolate), eggs and finally ended up as gluten free with a final diagnosis. I still ate chocolate and she got packets of jelly babies etc which I was not allowed to take, unless offered (and my parents never prompted her to offer them, fairly IMO as I was a little brat and enjoyed eating chocolate so a bit of jealousy each way evened it out). This attitude has continued into our adulthood (with no jealousy on either side :D) - my Mum bakes me cakes, but she also bakes my sister GF treats, which DSis offers anyway (because she is lovely), but are meant for her.

As for nuts, Mum has a fatal nut allergy and neither of us were allowed nuts anywhere. The only exception was an occasional handful of cashew or pistachio nuts (neither of which give Mum fatal reactions, just bad ones) under parental supervision at home or at my aunt's. This was because her allergy came on her without warning after a childhood spent scoffing nuts and she'd rather us be safe (and her able to supervise & dial 999 if necessary) than sorry. Because nuts can be so quickly and fatally serious this is the line I would take with your DS2 as well - it also prevents him unintentionally setting DS1 off by eating & then giving him and kiss/hug etc.

As to egg free cake, could you find a cake alternative, e.g. a tower of rice crispie cupcakes (or similar... don't know much about egg allergies), save you the hassle of a quick-learn recipe smile

BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Sun 12-Jun-11 17:01:25

Thanks all, I've not had a chance to read all the posts but will be back on later to read. The dummy-run egg free cake is in the oven... will report back later.

stepmad Sun 12-Jun-11 19:15:24

Hope that the cake went well i look after a child with an egg allergy to name a few. With practice there is no differance . I tend to mainly cook with out egs only because it is easier than doing several meals have had many visting people do not notice. I have friends who when she is visting do the same.
Her way older brother takes it all in his stride the last time i did pan cakes i offered to use the eggs but he was having none of it

trixymalixy Sun 12-Jun-11 19:35:39

Hope the cake turns out ok. The biggest problems with egg free cakes are that they don't rise as much and they can be quite crumbly apart from that you can't really tell the difference.

BiggestPiggyOnTheFarm Sun 12-Jun-11 20:34:17

Thank you so much for all your thoughts, I've read most of them out to DH and we have had a chat about how we want to handle it now that DS1 is getting old enough to be aware of what he is/isn't having.

Its really not much of a issue day to day because we just eat main meals together as a family and all the food is egg/nut free (too lazy to make separate meals!), though when there is a special occasion, eating out or something I guess we have to let DS2 have whatever he chooses and offer DS1 a substitute.
If we don't do that DS1 won't get used to accepting substitutes when he can't have something and when he starts school this might be a problem. Better start now whilst he is young so he never knows any different.

That said, DH and I are disagreeing on what to do about the birthday cake for DS2 next week. I've made a egg free cake and its passable, but it isn't particularly nice and it doesn't seem to hold together very well which means its going to be hard to decorate.
I want to make a regular cake and spend time with DS1 making and decorating rice crispy cakes for the birthday as well and when family come over everyone can choose to have a slice of cake or a crispy cake (or both in some cases). I will prime Grandma to choose the crispy cake so DS1 won't be the only one eating something different, this being the first time this has really been an issue it might make it easier and I think he'd be really chuffed that Grandma choose to have the treat he made too. Then in future years I can always make sure there is a suitable substitute he can have. As someone said, its the real world and he just has to know that he can't have some things but that doesn't mean he will go without treats.

DH feels (I think) that DS1 is still too young and will probably throw a wobbly in front of the whole family if he can't have birthday cake when everyone else is having it, so we should have an egg free cake. Though he does agree that in the future DS1 has to learn that sometimes he will have to have a substitution because he can't have things. I think he is mostly worried that the first time we do it will be in front of family and we don't know if there will be a tantrum. It'll also be the first time that there are presents for DS2 but none for him also, so might be a tough day for him (at Christmas DS2 was still to young to open presents).

Don't know what's best really because DH and I aren't going to agree!

Chicas75 Sun 12-Jun-11 20:51:58

I hope the cake goes well! I never had much success with egg free cakes, but the egg replacer is quite good. DD1 (age 5) has lots of allergies inc. egg, nut, dairy whilst DD2 (age 2) has escaped them - I give them mostly the same foods to avoid DD1 feeling left out in her own home (she has to deal with that enough outside of the home) - but give DD2 dairy treats like chocolate and cheese when the eldest is at school.

For birthdays - I found that making Nigella's rice crispy cakes or rocky road was a great egg / dairy free alternative - piling the squares high on a plate, with candles had the same effect as a normal cake and meant that everyone could enjoy it.

The good news is that at 5 years DD1 has outgrown a bit of her egg allergy and can now have baked egg - so still dairy free but cakes are back on the menu! Good Luck x

keresley Sun 12-Jun-11 20:58:59

My ds (6) is egg and nut allergic and my dd (3) is not allergic to anything. We go by the rule that if my son can't have it (and he is with us) then neither does she. She understands that this is to support my son and to make sure that he doesn't feel left out. I make of point of taking my daughter out on her own and letting her go to a bakery (for e.g) and choose anything she wants. We just don't mention it to my son.

It is my daughters birthday in 2 weeks time and she desperately wants a princess birthday cake. I am paying for an eggless princess cake to be made professionally. It will cost £35 but worth every penny so that my son can feel included. Whenever we are out, my son fully understands that other people will have things that he can't. I feel that my son has to deal with his allergies everyday so we can give him a bit of respite from it all whilst he is at home.

I just totally agree with Maelstrom "We also do it out of solidarity, it is really hard to go through life not being able to share with other people so we do the same to show him we understand what he is going through".

youarekidding Sun 12-Jun-11 21:02:33

I only have 1 DS and as no-one knows what he's allergic to mainly it doesn't cause too many problems. The only food he reacts to is ketchup. As you can imagine it is rife at parties - he's 6yo so think soft play hot buffets!

He just seems to accept he can't have it, although worryingly he won't sit near anyone eating it now sad. He was older though when he started reacting badly to it and remembers how ill he felt - he actually doesn't want to eat it. He had a serious reaction last year and now epi-pens (not to ketchup) and so accepts that theres somethings he can't have. It helps that he's terrified of the idea of having the epi-pen used. (that sounded really mean but what I mean is he accepts that not eating certain things is a PITA but better then the alternative iyswim?).

I really like your ideas above, especially getting DS1 involved in making 'safe' foods. I especially like the idea of getting family on board. I hate to say it but your DS1 will have a tantrum in front of family at some point. wink I guess if you have got everyone on board they know it may happen but that you are trying to deal with it.

Weta Sun 12-Jun-11 21:32:14

Good luck reaching a compromise with DH! I think both of your solutions sound really good though smile

babybarrister Mon 13-Jun-11 17:15:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Maelstrom Mon 13-Jun-11 23:03:35

Babybarrister, I guess it depends on how allergic your son is, mine reacts to peanuts and nuts by skin contact so we have had problems in the past where a child who had been eating nuts before they were dully removed from view on our arrival, touched him and that was enough to set a reaction that took 3 days to settle down.

If he was only allergic to them by eating them, I wouldn't worry about having nuts in the house.

I think your husband is right, the first birthday of your son is a special event and you don't want DS to be faced with the reality of his own allergies on such a special occasion. Having said that, the sooner they start getting used to the idea that they can't have everything the other people have, the easier and the better. They won't remember any different.

I do special allowances for DS' allergies, because I know that when he is away from home things sometimes are difficult for him. Now he is older (and he has had a few good scares accidents) he is very good at policing what he eats and accept that he cannot have things the other children are enjoying.

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