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When he was a baby, L had eczema patches that would not go away. No matter what we did, they'd clear up a little and then come right back. 
 
When he turned a year old in January, we took him to an allergist to see if they could identify a reason for the troublesome patches. The allergist said he would test L for common foods and environmental allergens and asked me to check off 10 foods that I ate and 10 foods that L ate regularly to see if they could determine if certain foods were a trigger for his eczema. 
 
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We learned L is allergic to dog, ragweed, and peanuts. I had to stop eating peanuts since I was breastfeeding and wasn't willing to give that up for a few more months. The doctor gave us a prescription cream for L’s current eczema patches and we were told to come back in a couple weeks to see if the spots had cleared up and discuss having a blood test performed to determine how bad L’s peanut allergy was. They would use the result as a baseline and we’d retest in another 6-12 months to see if L’s number dropped (as many as 20% of children outgrow peanut allergies).
 
L was a CHAMP at getting his blood taken. A few days later we received a call from the allergist’s office letting us know that we needed to avoid peanuts and tree nuts – and she was calling in a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.
 
I was floored. The only tree nut we tested L for was almonds and he wasn’t allergic to them, but his peanut allergy was high enough that it was best to avoid tree nuts as well. Anywhere between 25-40% of people with a peanut allergy are also allergic to tree nuts. I’m not sure that’s the case with L since he didn’t test positive for an almond allergy and he had been eating bites of my Nutella on toast at breakfast prior to this. But tree nuts often come in contact with peanuts during manufacturing so this is why we are avoiding tree nuts. 
 
The nurse wasn't very helpful over the phone, so at L's next follow up appointment a couple weeks later I asked the allergist for more information. The blood work came back saying L had a moderate peanut allergy. They prescribe the auto-injector as a precaution if an allergy is in moderate or high range. We really don't know what kind of reaction L would have if he ate peanuts but I feel better knowing I have the auto-injector just in case. I was told it was wise to avoid products that included wordage such as “may contain” or “has been processed in a facility” as a precaution.
 
I asked about coconuts – some people categorize them as a tree nut but most don’t. I’d been using coconut oil in cooking and using it to try and heal L’s eczema patches (with no luck) up until his blood work came back. I wanted to make 100% sure it was okay to continue cooking with it. The allergist was not concerned about coconuts because they aren't technically a nut, but he gave L a scratch test for my peace of mind.
 
L is allergic to coconut too.
 
L’s food allergies rule out so many foods (and even products like shampoo, soap, and lotions!). Thankfully L isn't a picky eater (yet). Shopping continues to be a learning process. The first few times I went grocery shopping with L’s new needs in mind, I left crying. When a certain brand of granola bars that were on my safe list suddenly listed coconut oil as an ingredient I started swearing in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. It’s hard.
 
With Halloween a few days away I’ve been feeling low over the fact that L’s “safe” candy list is very small and his brother's list is very large. It’s because of this that I decided we would not be giving out any candy to trick-or-treaters this year. My original plan was to offer some non-food treats, but I’ve learned how terrifying food can be when your child has an allergy. Instead, we’ll be handing out pencils, pens, glow sticks, slap bracelets, and erasers. Stuff that children can hopefully enjoy whether they have a food allergy/sensitivity or not. 
 
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I’ve also joined the Teal Pumpkin Project, which was created by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization. The first time I heard about teal pumpkins was last year (the day after Halloween, actually) and I loved the idea so I vowed to join this year. I just didn’t have any idea it would end up being personal for me.
 
I made a teal pumpkin statue to put outside our house on Halloween to help raise awareness and let other families know we have treats that won't have to get thrown away or handed out to another trick-or-treater. Because, really, no child really wants to give up their treats on Halloween and I doubt many parents enjoy making them do so.
 
Will you be handing out any non-food goodies to trick-or-treaters this year? Do you have a child with food allergies/sensitivities? How do you handle holidays like Halloween?

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About Emma

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Emma is married to her high school sweetheart and is a stay at home mom of two boys: G and L. A wanna-be professional writer and photographer, she can often be found following her boys around with a camera. When she isn’t chasing after her kids, Emma writes about her motherhood journey on her personal blog, Muddy Boots and Diamonds.

Pouches' Community Corner

St Baldrick’s Foundation began in 2000 over a simple idea – shave a colleague’s beautiful hair while also raising money for kids with cancer. And now this Foundation has funded over $200 million worth of research to cure pediatric
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