A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

6 Kids Books for Families With Food Allergies

As the mom of a kid with food allergies, I know how stressful a food allergy diagnosis can be, for both parents and kids.


These books can make it easier, though. Kids will identify with the characters, who, like them, have to be cautious at school, friends’ houses, birthday parties, and everywhere else. Parents will welcome the chance to spark conversations about safety, the importance of being assertive, and more.

The Peanut Pickle: A Story About a Peanut Allergy

Written by Jessica Jacobs

Illustrated by Jacquelyn Roslyn

Age range 4-8

“The Peanut Pickle” features our sweet yet assertive protagonist, six-year-old Ben, who has a peanut allergy so severe he can’t even be in the same room as a peanut without getting sick. Ben is quick to admit that he is sometimes nervous about speaking up about his allergies, but that he always feels better once he does. In this story, Ben confronts a number of situations where he has to advocate for himself. He consistently makes his needs known in a way that is both clear and kind. Most of the time, his friends and family are happy to accommodate him. Even when his grandmother forgets about his peanut allergy, Ben doesn’t take it personally. In one instance, he has to leave a pool party because there are just too many peanuts around.

This book is chock-full of realistic scenarios, conversation starters, and it even has reference sheets at the back, including rules for parents and children (e.g., always carry your epinepherine injector, always check food labels), a note on peanut allergy statistics, and a list of safety guidelines for parents and caregivers.

The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies

Written by Amy Recob

Illustrated by 64 Colors

Age range 4-8

There are eight BugaBee friends, and each one has an allergy to one of the eight major food allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. Written in rhymes, it tells the story of each friend as they encounter situations where they have to avoid allergens. Scenarios include Halloween trick-or-treating, encountering an allergen on the school cafeteria menu, and parties. Kids will love the fun pictures and relatable scenarios. Adults will love the second half of the book in which each of the eight common allergens has its own page. Listed are pictures of several different foods, along with questions like “Which of those foods would probably be safe to eat?” or “How can you know for sure if a food is safe to eat?” and “What are some signs that you are having an allergic reaction?” These pages serve not only as a vehicle for assessing your child’s understanding of his allergies but they also provide parents and caregivers a chance to educate kids in a low-pressure way.

Food Allergies (New True Books: Health)

By Christine Taylor-Butler

Age range 7 and up

This book is great for the child who understands that he has a food allergy and what basic safety precautions to take to stay healthy, but wants to elevate his knowledge about allergies. Taylor-Butler covers topics including the immune response that causes allergic reactions, allergy statistics, the nuances and dangers of cross-contamination, common foods where allergens often hide (soybeans in peanut butter, for example), what an allergic reaction can look like (including photos), and how to stay safe (including detailed information on how to read food labels). At the back of the book are resource lists, including recommended books for further reading, organizations and websites, and information on the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) national visitor center.

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze!)

Written by James Howe

Illustrated by Amy Walrod

Age level 4-8

Horace, Morris, and Dolores are a trio of mouse friends who are crazy about cheese. They can’t get enough of it. But after Dolores breaks out in hives, she receives the unfortunate diagnosis of a dairy allergy. And the timing couldn’t be worse. The Everything Cheese Festival is about to come to town. Any reader who enjoyed a string cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, or a quesadilla before being diagnosed with a dairy allergy will identify with Dolores’s struggle. Initially she has a hard time accepting her diagnosis, but sure enough, every time she eats cheese, she gets sick and ultimately decides cheese isn’t worth it . When she realizes that she has to say goodbye to cheese once and for all, Dolores comes up with a tasty alternative that proves to be quite popular – even among the cheese-o-philes at the Everything Cheese Festival.

The Princess and the Peanut Allergy

Written by: Wendy McClure

Illustrated by: Tammie Lyon

Age range 6-9

In this children’s story, we face a familiar situation – a birthday party. The trouble begins when our young protagonist Paula finds out her best friend’s princess birthday party menu will feature foods containing peanuts … including the castle cake. The problem is Paula has a severe peanut allergy. Unlike most of the other books in this vein, in which the allergic child tells a friend about the allergy and the friend easily accommodates their need for another food option or a change of venue, in this instance Paula’s best friend pushes back. Paula is tempted to shove the issue under the rug, but her dad encourages her to speak up for herself, no matter how much tension it creates. The stakes are too high to stay quiet. Spoiler alert: Paula’s bestie comes around and even marches over to the local bakery to change her order so that Paula can enjoy the cake with all the other kids.

Word Nerd

By Susan Nielson

Age level 9-12

“Word Nerd” is the story of twelve-year-old, socially awkward, severely peanut-allergic Ambrose. Living in a basement apartment with his loving but overprotective single mom, Irene, our adolescent hero runs into trouble when kids at his school place a stealth peanut butter sandwich in his lunch bag and he nearly dies as a result. His mom then decides to home school him, a path that threatens to make Ambrose’s isolated existence even more lonesome. But when Irene goes to work in the evenings, little does she know, Ambrose is forming an unlikely friendship with the upstairs neighbor’s son, a 25-year-old ex-con, Cosmo. Cosmo and Ambrose bond over their shared love of Scrabble and soon Cosmo starts taking our hero to a weekly Scrabble club meeting, where Ambrose learns about community and acceptance – but not without some twists and turns along the way.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

My Instagram feed has been full of pictures of friends that their kids to the beach. I get it, I like the beach a lot. But the forest and the mountains are my real loves.

The way the damp leaves smell in the morning. The peace of walking underneath a canopy of trees. The sound of firewood crackling at night. Sigh, heaven.

I also grew up camping with my family and have done some intense hiking, backpacking and search and rescue. So it's kind of in my blood—I wear my frostbite scars with honor.

So I couldn't wait to get my future kids out into nature (minus the frostbite). I had visions of us hiking to a stream, swimming and splashing all day, then cooking a big meal over a campfire as we sing songs and laugh.

Then, I actually became a parent. Of three kids, actually, all of whom are still very young… and a dog… and a husband who doesn't really like camping.

Despite the realization that it wouldn't be exactly as I planned, this summer we finally decided to take our first camping trip as a family.

Here is what I learned:

1. Set the bar low

I had to remind myself over and over again that this trip would not live up to my expectations. I know this sounds like a bummer way to start a trip, but it really helped. I have the tendency to over-plan and get really (really) excited about things. This is not a bad quality, but it can lend itself to disappointment when things don't go as hoped. I didn't want us to leave the trip feeling like it was a failure in any way.

This trip was a success, and a big moment for our family, no matter how it turned out.

Instead of forcing activities or memories, I forced myself to just… be. Not expecting the trip to be magical opened us up to appreciate the unexpected moments of magic as they occurred naturally, without being forced.

This got harder, of course, when our car got stuck in the mud (true story), and we had to wait three hours for AAA to arrive. But when our kids talk about the camping trip now they still squeal with delight as they recount the story of the tow truck coming. You're welcome (I guess)?

2. We made it really easy

I put my camping ego aside, and we took a lot of shortcuts on this first trip. We didn't stay in a tent but rented a barebones cabin instead. For dinner, we ordered a pizza. And we let the kids play on our phones for a little bit in the evening.

Those things didn't make for a truly authentic experience, but goodness, they really helped. I have started to realize that there is no shame in making things easy, especially when you have little kids. And they didn't know any different. As far as they are concerned, we hiked the Appalachian Trail and gathered all our own food from the earth.

This was a lazy camping trip, for sure—and that was exactly what we needed.

3. I over-prepped for safety so I could calm down

I have hiked and camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in February—this was not that. At any given moment on our trip, an ambulance could have easily reached us, and we were only a few minutes away from a hospital at any point. But it made me feel much better to know that we were safe and ready for anything that should happen.

We bought a first aid kit, a survival kit, too many flashlights and bottled water. I was really big on everyone wearing good footwear and teaching them how to walk carefully on uneven terrain.

We also used the opportunity to teach about other areas, like water safety. Rita Goldberg of the British Swim School recommends "[teaching kids] to avoid water hazards and to not approach a fountain, river, pool or lake without an adult's supervision and permission."

We also incorporated their "Water Watcher" program, which assigns a "badge of responsibility" to one adult at all times, who maintains a constant watch over the kids while they are near water.

These easy steps, that we decided on ahead of time, made me feel much more relaxed, and therefore better able to enjoy our time.

This trip took some emotional adjustments on my part. It wasn't glamorous, or particularly exciting. But that was exactly what it needed to be. Emily Glover wrote that "by getting away from the distractions of home and focusing on each other...we're reminded of what really matters."

We found that in the woods—together.

You might also like:



Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.