A mother of a child with multiple food allergies was frustrated by the lack of allergy-related kid-friendly products so she took action and created AllerMates, a new line of bright, fun, whimsical character-driven wristbands, dog tags and lunch boxes that her son would happily embrace. Being as I myself have a son with food allergies, I like the fact that AllerMates help better protect kids against unwanted allergens away from home in places like school, daycare, parties, sleep-overs and summer camp-- which is a constant worry of mine!
AllerMates products are based on 14 fun, original characters that represent the most common allergies: P. Nutty (Peanut Allergy), Nutso (Nut Allergy), Professor Wheatley (Gluten / Wheat Allergy), Pint (Milk Allergy), Eggie (Egg Allergy), Crabby (Shellfish Allergy), Super-Cillin (Penicillin Allergy), Bizzy (Insect Sting Allergy), Dr. Strangeglove (Latex Allergy), Drift (Pollen Allergy), Detective Fin (Fish Allergy), Soy Cool (Soy Allergy), Teeni Tahini (Sesame Allergy), & Nine (Cat Allergy). These characters and product line was created by Iris Shamus, Founder and CEO of AllerMates, in part to help kids feel positive about their allergies.
I was so thrilled when I actually got the chance to interview Iris Shamus about her line and about tips for dealing with kids with allergies during the summer!
ME: Hi Iris! I have a 2-year-old son who has dairy and egg allergies. We have never taken him camping because I have this fear of him having a bad allergic reaction and being too far away from a hospital. Do you have any advice on camping with kids who have food allergies?
IRIS: Hi Kristin- I think that every parent should make choices based on their comfort level. There is no real right or wrong. Being cautious is a smart thing but at the same time you don't want to deny your child a wonderful family experience because of their food allergy. I have never hesitated to take my food allergic son with me anywhere as long as I had his emergency medication available- I always carry Benadryl and two doses of his prescribed auto injectable epinephrine. Also having your own food allergy emergency plan is a must. You’ll want to have all the necessary relevant information, including necessary contacts like your physician, readily available in case of emergency. Choosing a camping area that is not too far away from a hospital, with pre-mapped directions, may give you the kind of peace of mind that would enable you to relax and enjoy your family.
ME: It seems like summer is just not complete without a fun family vacation, but traveling with kids who have food allergies seems to be a lot harder than I expected. Do you have any helpful tips on how to make summer traveling with allergies easier?
IRIS: It's true... once you leave the comfort of your home and every day routine things tend to get a little complicated. As a parent there's no need to despair, just be very prepared (hey that almost rhymed!). Once again always make sure that your child's emergency medication (epinephrine auto injector, etc..) is readily available at all times. Make sure to pack allergy free snacks for them that you can rely on and choose your restaurants wisely. For example for children with nut allergies, Asian (Chinese or Thai) restaurants are not a great choice - they use nuts in a lot of their dishes. Consider carrying and sharing with wait staff allergy cards that clearly define your child’s allergy and food restrictions. As a parent of a child with food allergies you may know all the hidden ways an allergen can be presented in food ingredients but the restaurant probably doesn’t.
ME: Telling my son he can't have cake, ice cream, cookies, and other yummy treats found at most summer parties just breaks my heart. Is there an easier way to say "no" to foods that aren't allergy friendly?
IRIS: Every parent of a food allergic child goes through this and I usually find that it's the parent that feels worse than the kid ;) I've been blessed with a son who even at a young age always seem to understand the importance of being told no to cake at parties and didn't feel sorry for himself. One of the reasons that I created the AllerMates characters was because I wanted kids with food allergies to feel good about themselves. So once again, it's always good to be prepared in these situations. Have a delicious allergy free treat readily available for them. Every day I find more and more terrific tasting allergy free snacks and foods available on the market - which is really wonderful!
ME: And lastly, what is the best advice you can give to a parent who has a child with allergies?
IRIS: Don't sweat it too much. Trust that you’re not alone and that you and millions of other parents and children learn to adjust and cope with their food allergies. Educate yourself and teach your child the allergy awareness basics. Help your child avoid their allergens and always make sure your required medications are on-hand. Dealing with your child’s allergies will become second nature to both of you and … take heart, research shows that a large percentage of kids outgrow their allergies in their teen. Oh, and don’t forget to have your child wear a bright, kid-friendlyallergy awareness wristband so that others will be aware of their allergy too! Hmmm, where can we get one of those? ;-)
Next, I got to test out the AllerMates wristbands firsthand with my son who really enjoyed them. We talked about the bands, what each one meant, and how he can tell other people about them. I could tell he thought they were really cool! I was also happy to see that the wristbands are adjustable so they can fit most children, as my son is only 2 1/2 years old.
Visit AllerMates.com to purchase their products and to find more information about allergies, lots of fun games, activities, and more which are based on the line of AllerMates characters. You can also find AllerMates at Amazon.com and at independent retailers throughout the U.S. as well as stores in Canada, United Kingdom, Portugal and South America. Look for AllerMates products at national retailers this summer.
A big THANK YOU to Iris for her interview and for sending the free samples of AllerMates to review. I was not compensated for this review. I receive product(s) for free so that I can provide my insight and experience. These are my honest opinions. Your experience may vary.