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How to avoid allergen cross contamination at home

How to avoid allergen cross contamination at home 0

We have peanut and dairy allergies in our house currently and previously had egg and sesame as well.

We tend to keep the house free from peanuts and products containing peanuts but we do not do the same for dairy. We did originally before Miss 3 was old enough to know to ask what was is her food, but as life has progressed dairy is a regular staple for the rest of the family.

  • In the fridge all the dairy based products are in a separate plastic container. This not only helps to avoid any cross contamination in the fridge it also helps Miss 3 clearly identify what is off limits for her.

    This would work equally as well in the pantry to avoid mixing of safe food with unsafe foods.
  • Ensuring all benches and surfaces a thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water after every use is so important and will greatly reduce the risk of any allergens being left behind!

  • HAND WASHING – it makes sense, when you have kids you are already in the habit of continually washing your hands.

    However, it can be trickier to teach your little ones just how important this is and how to do it well! My two kids without food allergies are reminded before they eat anything ‘milky’ that hand washing is not negotiable after they have finished.

    I have found that preschool and school have been great and encouraging hand washing to help teach your children how to do it correctly.
  • When washing your hands it is imperative to make sure you are using warm water and soap. Antibacterial hand washes and wipes are not guaranteed to remove allergens.

    Again this can be a bit hard with kids, I know myself I have been guilty of just grabbing a wipe and wipe of Miss 2 hands when I am in a hurry, but they WILL NOT remove all traces of allergens.
  • Utensils – I always serve Miss 3 safe foods first and then serve the rest of us. Another idea is to have utensils marked especially for allergy free foods and don’t use them for anything else.
  • Drinks – do not share cups and bottles. My children are still young enough to be mostly drinking out of water bottles. Miss 3 has her own bottles that the other girls do not use. My children are well versed in not sharing drinks, the challenge is when we have visitors with young children is making sure they are not swapping water bottles.

 These are just some of the strategies we use in our house to make sure that food allergens are not spread across the entire house.

 I find environmental allergens so much hard to manage across the house, Miss 3 is allergic to dusts mites, our cat as well as pollen and grasses. I will be exploring the management of environmental allergen is next weeks blogs.

As always I would love to hear how you manage food allergies in your house to avoid cross contamination.

love & happiness

A x

Why not join the Mem & Maeve family today? As a member of our community, you will receive our favourite allergy and eczema resources and tips, straight to your inbox! Not to mention great deals >> Join now!

 **Disclaimer: Information provided in this post is only based on experience and should not replace the advice you have been given from a medical professional and if you are at all worried about your child, take them to see your family doctor.

  • Anna Wright
Best clothing for children with eczema

Best clothing for children with eczema 0

When you have little one with eczema or sensitive skin, the clothing you dress them in can make a huge difference to how well controlled their eczema is. It may come as absolutely no surprise to you all that I am going to talk about the benefits of cotton on sensitive and eczema prone skin. I also have included a few amazing eczema specific clothing items which have been essential in helping me manage my kiddies eczema.

Cotton Clothing…. what’s the big deal?

You always hear people saying, “eczema prone skin needs to be kept cool”, when sensitiveorganic cotton onesies
 skin is all wrapped up in synthetic fabrics such a nylon or polyester it cause the skin to
overheat and sweat. Which create the perfect enviroment for eczema to flare and infections to start!

This is when sensitive and eczema prone skin will over heat and eczema will flare.

These synthetic fabrics are chemically produced and the chemicals can be absorbed through your little ones skin, particularly if the skin is open, which is common place for some babies suffering irritated skin.

Unfortunately, not all cotton is created equal and often cotton is produced using potentially harmful pesticide and other chemicals, which can have a harmful effect on sensitive skin.

GOT’s certified organic cotton is absolutely the best option for all of us but especially for someone living with eczema. Organic cotton is in higher demand these days meaning that designers and manufacturers are producing more and more clothing using it - which in turn is lowering the cost greatly!

 

Scratch Sleeves.

scratch sleeves for children with eczemaTrust me when I tell you I have searched high and low for the very best children’s clothing
with built in mittens! I have done every Google search possible and tried every option available.

Once your child it older than 3 months it is virtually impossible to keep mittens on them that are not inbuilt into their clothing!

The idea behind the mittens is simple – they gives your child’s skin a chance to heal by keeping little fingers away, stopping the scratching. 

Ideally, the mitten sleeves or scratch sleeves you choose for your child should be flexible enough for them to use during the day without interfering with their playtime and comfortable enough for them to sleep in, not to mention made from organic cotton!

Check our our range of Eczema friendly clothing >> Click here 

 

 

Tubi-fast garments

Tubi-fast garments are specially made for wet and dry wrapping or dressing in the treatmenttubi fast garment for wet wrapping of severe eczema and they are so much easier to use than loose bandages. 

These tubifast garments make wrapping quick and simple, which is highly desirable where wriggly babies and small children are concerned!

They come with hand mittens and enclosed feet and have flat seams prevent further skin irritation.

These are really ideal when your bubba's eczema flares, PLUS  Wet Wrapping can help reduce the duration & frequency of treatment with steroids!

They can be worn under your child's normal clothing during or day or pyjamas of a night.

>> Click here to download our FREE Wet Wrapping Guide 

 

What to avoid.

  • Wool – although wool is a natural fiber is it too hard on eczema prone skin.
  • Synthetic fabrics – they do not allow the skin to breath.
  • Over dressing – to not put too many layers or blankets on your little eczema bubba.

 

love & happiness

Anna x

Why not join the Mem & Maeve family today? As a member of our community, you will receive our favourite allergy and eczema resources and tips, straight to your inbox! Not to mention great deals >> Join now!

 **Disclaimer: Information provided in this post is only based on experience and should not replace the advice you have been given from a medical professional and if you are at all worried about your child, take them to see your family doctor.

Allergy Free Afternoon Tea Book Giveaway! 1

Like many other families with young children, afternoons are a challenging time of day in our household. The usual scene is me trying to get dinner sorted, while helping with Miss 5 with homework, trying to keep Miss 3 entertained, and playing refereeing when they start to push each other’s buttons.

Needless to say, afternoon tea has never really been on my radar. In fact, I viewed it as a inconvenience. Sometimes the kids would grab a piece of fruit or a biscuit, other times they would go without until dinner time.  Now I know better!

A few weeks ago, Anna and I were invited to a book launch for Allergy Free Afternoon Tea , co-authored by Simone Emery from Play with Food and Ruth Meaney from Pea Fritters. It was a nice morning with a lovely group of Mums and their children who have food allergies. 

Simone is a feeding therapist, and shared some practical tips for growing confident eaters, while Ruth was able to share her experiences as an allergy mum, which really helped get the dialogue flowing within the group. Ruth also performed a food demonstration, making a delicious seed butter recipe from the book. The children were kept entertained with craft activities and a reading of the book The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies.

After reading Allergy Free Afternoon Tea, we knew instantly that we wanted to stock it in our online store. Why? Because we knew that members of the Mem & Maeve family would benefit from the wonderful professional advice and allergy friendly recipes within the book.

While reading the book, I came to understand the many reasons why it’s important to treat afternoon tea like a scheduled meal. It’s a long stretch of time between lunch and dinner, so naturally your children may be hungry for a snack. However, as a mother of two fussy eaters, it was this fun fact that piqued my interest:

The great thing about afternoon tea is that children are usually very ready for it and may be more open to new foods. Seize that opportunity and introduce some new textures, temperatures, smells and tastes.

Genius!

Afternoon tea looks quite different at our house now, all because of this one little book. Admittedly, I’m not organised or motivated enough (who is?) to make afternoon tea a learning experience everyday. However, I am finding that it provides me with regular opportunities to expose my girls to new foods in a playful way. The advice within the book is brilliant, and has provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to make afternoon tea a thoughtful, playful and healthy mealtime experience with my children.

Allergy Free Afternoon Tea contains 10 allergy free recipes that are not only delicious but also simple to make. This book is perfect for allergy families, fussy eaters or busy families in general.

We are excited to be giving away a copy of the book to one of you! To be in the running, leave a comment on this blog post telling us what simple, go-to foods you keep on hand for afternoon tea at your place.

Or, you can purchase your copy of the book here today. For only $15, you will receive a hard copy of the book plus free shipping Australia wide, as well as a digital version.

love & happiness

R @ Mem & Maeve

Why not join the Mem & Maeve family today? As a member of our community, you will receive our favourite allergy and eczema resources and tips, straight to your inbox! Not to mention great deals >> Join now!

Our family’s favourite allergy friendly breakfasts - a guest blog post by Little Foodie Guide

Our family’s favourite allergy friendly breakfasts - a guest blog post by Little Foodie Guide 0

We have been lucky enough to have Kara from Little Foodie Guide share her favourite allergy friendly family breakfasts.

Kara is a mum on a mission to help kids eat a range of colourful and nutritious foods.

As a professional nanny, she has gained a wealth of experience cooking for the tiny picky eaters and the mini food lovers alike. She created her blog, Little Foodie Guide, as a hub for parents and experts to share real food recipes, tips, stories, and support.

Here are Kara's amazing recipes... Enjoy x

All recipes are dairy free, gluten free, egg free, peanut free, refined sugar free, and include nut free options.

In support of Food Allergy Week this week, and for all of the amazing allergy parents out there, I wanted to compile a list of our favourite allergy friendly breakfasts. While we don’t have any food allergies ourselves, I love to incorporate into our day a big variety of flavours, ingredients, and nutrients. These breakfast recipes are easy to make, and some can even be prepared the night before to save time in the mornings. The kids would also love these recipes for afternoon tea.

Overnight Quinoa or Rice Porridge

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked white quinoa or rice of choice
  • 1 ½ cup almond, coconut, seed, or rice milk
  • 4 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • A splash of maple syrup or honey
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chopped fruit of choice

Instructions

It’s always great to cook up a big batch of quinoa, as it lasts a few days in the fridge, and can be added to salads, soups, casseroles, to crumb chicken, or to bulk out meat or veggie burgers.

Cook quinoa as per packet instructions, then place in a covered bowl or large jar with the rest of the ingredients except for the fruit. Heat the quinoa porridge in the morning on a low heat with extra milk if necessary until it’s lovely and creamy, adding your fruit of choice. Some chopped strawberries and bananas are yummy, and we like to sprinkle on some sunflower seeds and pepitas.

rice quinona breakfast

 

Yoghurt, Granola, and Berry Parfait

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of raw unsalted nuts of choice (or only use a variety of seeds if nut free, add dried fruit if you like)
  • 1cup raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • 1cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/3cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Coconut yoghurt
  • Mixed frozen berries, thawed for at least 20 minutes before, or chopped fresh berrie

Instructions

Make this granola the day or night before, as it needs to cook in the oven. Hungry kids will not want to wait - it smells like delicious cookies when it’s baking! I like to make a big batch on the weekend, so I have it ready for the week. You could even thaw the frozen berries in the fridge the night before to be extra prepared, and then it’s just a matter of assembling in the morning. To assemble, simply layer a glass with yoghurt, then berries, then granola, and repeating the layers until the glass is full.

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Add the nuts and seeds to a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to chop the nuts, but don’t grind them into a fine meal.
  3. Melt the coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, vanilla extract, and cinnamon together on a low heat or in the microwave at 10 second increments.
  4. Pour everything into a mixing bowl, along with the shredded coconut. Stir well to make sure it is all coated.
  5. Spread the granola mixture evenly on the baking-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown and crispy, stirring once after 10 minutes. It may take less or more time depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it.
  6. Remove granola from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes without stirring it
  7. Stir gently, and store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Smoothie Bowl or ‘Nice’ Cream

There are plenty of delicious recipes out there for both smoothie bowls and ‘nice’ cream. It’s fun just to experiment. A smoothie bowl is just that – a smoothie in a bowl, only it’s thickened with ice or avocado or more frozen fruit than liquid such as milk or coconut water. ‘Nice’ cream has the consistency of ice cream because it uses mostly frozen fruit such as bananas, berries, or mangoes. Both smoothie bowls and nice cream can be topped with whatever you have in the pantry, such as nuts, seeds, coconut, extra fruit, homemade granola, cacao nibs, seed or nut butters. Get creative with the kids! This is our easy chocolate ‘nice’ cream…because this is the kind of ice cream you can have for breakfast - the kids will think you’re amazing!

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas, sliced and frozen. To do this, line a small baking tray or chopping board (one that will fit in the freezer) with baking paper. Keep the banana slices from touching too much or they’ll freeze in big clumps.
  • 1/3 cup of non-dairy ‘mylk’ of choice (I use almond)
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

Instructions

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until it resembles soft serve ice cream. Top with your favourite toppings.

allergy-friendly-smoothie-breakfast

 

Toast with yummy, healthy toppings

Once you find a good gluten free bread brand, or have mastered your own, there are so many healthy topping variations you can add to boost the nutrient density, and keep the family satisfied until lunch time.

Homemade ‘jam’ – simply stew some berries or pitted cherries in a little water until they soften. Allow to cool, add about 1 tablespoon of chia seeds per cup of cooked fruit, stir and wait at least 10 minutes for the chia seeds to soak up the liquid and thicken the fruit to resemble jam.

Avocado and seeds – smash some avocado with a little lemon juice, and spread onto your toast and sprinkle on your seeds of choice.

 Seed butter and sliced strawberries

Nut butter, honey, and sliced banana

banana on gluten free bread       jam toast with seed or nut butter

PS why not join the Mem & Maeve family today? As a member of our community, you will receive our favourite allergy and eczema resources and tips, straight to your inbox! Not to mention great deals >> Join now! xx

Teaching young children about their friend's food allergies

Teaching young children about their friend's food allergies 0

There are so many life skills and important lessons we teach our children from the time they are small. In our household, the issue of food allergy was not high on the agenda, until it had to be.

Anna’s middle child was diagnosed with food allergies and anaphylaxis at 6 months of age. As our families spend a great deal of time together, I knew I had a responsibility to teach my daughters about food allergies and how to keep their friend safe.

Luckily, there are some great resources to guide parents in teaching their children about food allergies. The information on the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website is particularly informative. I found their Protect A Life (PAL) education program to be most useful in guiding my approach.  

To make learning about food allergies fun, I used allergy themed children’s books. I highly recommend The BugaBee series, which focuses on the top 8 food allergens.

The BugaBees: Friends with food allergies book is for children living with food allergies, while The BugyBops: Friends for all time book is for their siblings and friends.

With its rhyming text and colourful illustrations, The BugaBees series is a hit with young children. The addition of learning activities and talking points make the books a valuable teaching tools for parents.

Here is what I focused on when teaching my young children about their friend’s food allergies. In its simplest form, the overarching message was about being a good friend.

 

Food allergies are very serious

I explained to my girls that their friend has food allergies, which meant that certain foods could make her very sick. We categorised foods as either ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ for their friend. Strict rules were put in place that food, cutlery and cups were NEVER to be shared.

We also made handwashing AFTER eating part of our regular routine. With age, they have come to understand that an allergic reaction doesn’t only happen as a result of ingesting foods, but can occur via skin contact and inhalation.


Have fun together

Anna expressed her concerns to me for her daughter regarding the potential risk of bullying and exclusion. I made a concerted effort to address this with my children.

We talked about how even though our friend can’t eat all of the same foods we do, we have many other things in common, and can still have fun playing together. This seemed to be a no brainer to them...what does their friend being allergic to eggs have to do playing together at the park, or doing craft?!


If your friend feels sick, get help immediately

Due to the young age of my children, this concept is one I did not address in much detail until recently. We have discussed the fact that allergic reactions can happen very quickly and result in physical symptoms.

When talking about symptoms, I used language that was age appropriate, explaining that during an allergic reaction, their friend may say their tongue/mouth/skin is burning/itchy/tingling; or that their mouth feels funny/thick. They may say they’re having trouble breathing; or that they feel sick in their tummy.

I have explained that if their friend feels sick, they must let an adult know immediately so they can get the help and medicine they need to feel better. My children are aware that their friend needs to have her allergy medication with her at all times. I have shown them her EpiPen, explaining what it is and how it is administered. These discussions have also led into talks about making emergency 000 calls.


Does your child have a sibling or friend with food allergies? If so, have you found the time to have these important conversations? Share your tips with other members of the Mem & Maeve family. How did you make the topic of food allergies age appropriate and engaging? Do you have any resources you would recommend?

love & happiness

R @ Mem & Maeve x

Why not join the Mem & Maeve family today? As a member of our community, you will receive our favourite allergy and eczema resources and tips, straight to your inbox! Not to mention great deals >> Join now!

The peanut challenge that was not

The peanut challenge that was not 3

On Friday morning I woke at 5am, packed my little ladies in the car, and drove Miss 5 and Miss 1 to grandparents and friends who were watching them for me. Miss 3 and I proceeded on our journey to the Children’s Hospital where Miss 3 was to undertake a medically supervised peanut challenge.

First of all let’s rewind! Miss 3 was only 6 weeks old when she first developed symptoms of allergies. Most notably, blood and mucus filled nappies, as well as weight loss. During her first year of life and several times since she has undergone Skin Prick Tests to assess potential allergies.

Luckily for us she has outgrown sesame and egg allergies. However, her peanut and dairy allergies have persisted. She has had contact with very small amounts of dairy and reacted. She has never had any contact with peanut, so in consultation with her immunologist we decided a supervised peanut challenge would be advantageous.

As many of you know, the waiting lists for these in hospital trials are huge – some families are waiting for over 12 months and have to travel long distances to attend appointments. Being totally aware of all this, I spent the week's prior preparing Miss 3 as best I could for her challenge day.

We arrived early (amazingly with 3 kids I still tend to arrive EVERYWHERE early), I could see she was starting to get stressed in the hospital environment, so I let her play the ipad to distract herself. During her initial contact with the nurses, Miss 3 was perfectly compliant, sitting still while her vitals were taken. I listened to the nurses as they  told me what to expect, reiterating what the process involved and the potential risks.

Finally the challenge began with just one tiny morsel of a peanut on a teaspoon, when … BAM! She absolutely refused to let that peanut anywhere near her. She covered her mouth, stomped her feet, and shook her head. I know her, I know her strength and her stubbornness. I knew she had  made up her mind. There was not a hope in hell that she was going to let that teeny tiny crumb of nut enter her mouth.

Just like that we were done – I was in absolute shock! I never expected her to react like that. She is generally an easy going kid, taking everything in her stride. I thought we would breeze through the peanut challenge. I thought I had prepared her, but I have since realised I had not come close to preparing her enough.

As soon as I got home, I posted on the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Facebook page asking for help, ideas, tips and tricks. I wanted to know more about other people’s experiences. I received some wonderful, thoughtful and intelligent suggestions, ideas and comments posted in response to my plea for help. Linking to a community of supportive, knowing and wise Mummas online was an absolute sanity saver! I was very active in online communities when Miss 3 was first diagnosed, however as the years progressed I began to take for granted that I had a handle on everything. The support and advice that I received in response to my post was worth its weight in gold. I immediately felt a million times better knowing that there were other people out there who had a similar experience to mine.

Miss 3 is back on the waitlist for another attempt at her peanut challenge, and is scheduled for a dairy challenge in a few months time. I will use these coming months to research how I can help her better cope with the experience. I will talk to her about why we are doing the challenge. Together we will do test runs with safe foods to help her better understand what to expect of the process. I will listen to her thoughts and feelings, and we will talk through them. She will likely have a birthday before her next challenge rolls around – Miss 3 will be Miss 4, and perhaps that will make a difference.

We would love to hear from you about your experience with your child's oral food challenge. If you have any advice, we'd be grateful if you'd like to share! 

Love & happiness

A x