Play Date Faux Pas

Snack tips for kids with food allergies

Cute boys laying on ground eating sandwichesEntertaining your kid’s friends, known in suburbia as the “Play Date” is a wonderful thing.  Our children are entertained and we can finish cleaning the kitchen, catching up on paying bills or enjoying a book for those precious 2 hours.   The kids are running around, playing the Wii or just talking and having fun…then it happens…SNACK TIME!  Kids, and most grown-ups (myself included) get very irritable and grumpy without food.  These play dates can burn lots of energy very quickly.   So you bring out the healthy options and maybe some junky treats, only to find out that the friend of your child has a food allergy. GULP!

Why didn’t the parents tell me, send a snack or even have the child carry an EpiPen?  All of these are major faux-pas for the parents of the allergic child, and are just used as an extreme example…but these parents do exist.

Here are some quick tips that you can absolutely fall back on…just in case this happens to you.

  1. You have every right to not serve the child a snack, call the parents and ask for a snack,
    and their EpiPen be delivered ASAP! (If these parents are lucky, you won’t call Child Services on them…depends if you like them ;-)
  2. Depending on their allergy you can look at packaged goods boxes of foods from General Mills, Kellogg’s or Kraft and know that they label for the top 8 allergens (Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Dairy, Egg, Wheat, Soy and Shellfish).  If any of these products contain or may contain these allergens, they would be listed in the ingredient list or as a warning just below the ingredients list.
  3.  Stick to basics – like fruit and veggies – thoroughly wash and serve.
  4.  Make sure you washed your hands well prior and all allergic foods are not near your food you are preparing.

At the end of the play date, you should absolutely mention that they had a snack and that in the future, could the parents provide a snack or suggest alternatives that work for them.  You should also discuss what allergens you have in your kitchen so that they understand the risks…if they didn’t give you any notice, they are likely not the allergy intense parents (who tend to be more freakish in nature…once again, myself included).

All that said, enjoy that good book and latte…your two hours are almost up!

About The Author

Steve Rosenbaum
Steve is the founder of , The Food Allergy & Celiac Friendly Restaurant Guide. Inspired by his own children’s food allergies, provides users with detailed information based on interviews of the General Managers and Chefs of each restaurant. provides families with and without allergies the ability to socialize without compromising safety. Steve continues to advocate for minimizing the risk for the allergic community in restaurants and on airplanes while respecting the needs of the non-allergic majority. You can follow Steve and on Facebook, Twitter , and by visiting the website .

11 Responses to Play Date Faux Pas

  1. barbara says:

    would a parent of a child with a food allergy send them on a play date and not tell the other parent about the allergy?!?! i watched my neice and nephew in their own house and their mother was hyper vigulant, and rightly so. i could not imagine a parent sending their child into another household and not telling that adult about their child’s life threatening food allergy.

    • NotNutz says:

      No, I can’t even imagine that! If a child has a food allergy, serve them NOTHING!! Not even fruits or veggies! This article is reckless. Food allergies should never be minimized nor should caring loving responsible parents be called freakish! Never assume that they couldn’t possible have a deadly reaction to something like a fruit or a veggie. If an allergic child shows up without an allergy medication or plan, send them home and save their life! This article needs to be retracted immediately.

  2. Julie says:

    Fruits are not safe either. People with latex allergies will often have allergic reactions to bananas and kiwis. Strawberries are also a common allergy. I think a call to the parents is ALWAYS in order. You need to find out exactly what allergy you’re dealing with, if you have an alternative to feed the kid that parent knows is safe, or send the kid home. I have to agree, this article is a bit reckless.

  3. Evangeline says:

    As the parent of 2 children with multiple severe food allergies, I cannot even fathom parents of an allergic child dropping their kid off without epi pen, their own safe snacks and careful instructions! I can’t even wrap my head around how irresponsible that would be! Of the options given in response to that situation, only #1 (not serving the child any food, and contacting parents for epi pen and safe snack ASAP) would be an appropriate response. The other suggestions are inappropriate to the point of being dangerous. And I am definitely one of those “allergy intense parents”. I’ve got to be to keep my kids safe and alive. I don’t particularly like the “freakish” descriptor though, even if it is tongue in cheek. The last thing allergic kids and their parents need is anything else affirming that stereotype of us being crazy, helicopter parents and undermining the severity of FA.

  4. Norka says:

    The article did mention “just used as an extreme example.” But it does get the conversational ball rolling, so to speak. Would you have a child over to play with yours that you did not at least know the child’s parents or have spoken with them about such items? Most of us wouldn’t, however they are out there the ones that do. Case in point locally a nine year old child reported missing, she showed up the very next day having stayed the night at a child’s house that she just met while playing in the park. This brings up two thoughts, who lets a child that young go to a park alone, and what parent would let their child have a friend stay over that they met at a park without talking to the parents first? These parents are out there, so one must be vigilant in who comes over to play as well as where your child plays. This article does make you want to talk to the parents a bit more in depth, which is not always easy in our busy lives. Things to ask, food for thought, pardon the pun. Though it could be expanded further, not only into allergies… if I was not aware of a friend’s religion I might commit a faux paus feeding their child something so simple as a blt or ham and cheese sandwhich. It does make one stop, think, and wish to talk to parents further.

  5. Deborah says:

    Believe it or not there are parents who will drop their children off without any allergy information. My daughter had the first birthday party in her kindergarten class. I had 17 children dropped off at my home. 3 of these children had allergies – one to dairy, one to nuts and the other to oranges (yes oranges). NONE of the three parents mentioned the allergies – I found out as the school year went on. Luckily no reactions happened that day, but they certainly could have!

  6. Rachael says:

    To be on the safe side If we are having company children or adults over and food will be served I check before hand if anyone attending has allergies.

  7. makeupgirlsca says:

    my daughter has an allergy to tree nuts and shell fish, that never turns out well

  8. mommybear says:

    Not all food allergies require an epi pen. Some have skin reactions and can be controlled with an allergy pill. My son takes one daily to minimize reactions. He also knows what he is allergic to and can avoid those foods without having to tote his own food with him everywhere. I think the writer of this article is being a little harsh.

  9. gracegirl says:


  10. re12re says:

    Can you guys please update the site?