Have a child with allergies? Here are 9 Ways to help your child experience a smooth transition to school

The thought of your little one starting school may seem daunting. It may feel like the last few years have whizzed by and suddenly it’s time for them to go to school. You may feel excited about reaching this milestone or even a little sad.

Those feelings are absolutely normal!

Having a child with allergies can make the whole process seem a little bit more daunting.

Careful planning and preparation can reduce the risks for your child as they head to school.

Good allergy awareness isn’t only for those with allergies. Teachers, classmates and parents can all make it safer for those with allergies.

Create a safer environment and a smoother transition with the following tips:

  1. Have regular, open and focussed communication with your child about their allergies

You’ve probably talked to your child about their allergies already. However it helps to remind them in the lead up to school.

This includes:

  • Show them what the food they’re allergic to looks like
  • Talk to them about what types of food their allergen may be found in (e.g. cow’s milk: butter in sandwiches)
  • Discuss what their allergy symptoms are and what to do if they are experiencing them
  • If they think they are having an allergic reaction – or even if unwell – to tell a teacher immediately. If no adult is available (e.g. in playground) then to ask a friend to alert a teacher and to calmly walk up to the school office. (Running or exercising can make an allergy reaction worse.)
  • Always check with you or their teacher about food offered to them. For example, this may occur at class parties, birthday parties and before/after school.
  1. Encourage your child not to share food

It is key to encourage your child not to share other children’s food or share their food with others.

At home, children are often encouraged share their toys or books with others.  So the message to not share food may be confusing. Explain to them the reasons behind this and how this is different.

  1. Wash hands before meals

Washing hands before a meal reduces the risk of your child ingesting an allergen. Many schools encourage all children to wash hands before meals. Hand sanitisers do not remove food from hands, so it is best to use soap and water.

  1. Alert bands

Buy a medi-alert bracelet or necklace for your child to wear at school. Some allow inscriptions or inserts to write allergies on.

  1. Make a time to talk to your child’s teacher

Setting aside some time at the start of the school year to discuss your child’s allergies can remove any confusion and reduce risk from the start.

  • Let your child’s teacher know what you’ve discussed with your child, including if they are aware of their symptoms.
  • Let your child’s teacher what your child’s allergy symptoms are.
  • Request that they avoid using the food your child is allergic to in the classroom eg. chocolate for counting.
  • Ask if your child’s teacher is planning any cooking opportunities. If so, to please they consider your child’s allergies and include your child. With some notice and preparation, together you can arrange an alternative recipe.
  1. Snack box for birthday parties during school term

In some schools it is common for children to bring cake or lolly bags to school to celebrate birthdays. Bring in an alternative ‘snack’ or ‘treat’ filled container. This may reduce worry about your child ‘missing out’. You could include allergy-safe food, stamps or stickers.

  1. Up to date Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Plans.

Before school starts, make a time with your child’s GP to request an up to date Allergy Action Plan.  In Australia, there are two types of plans – Allergy Action Plans and Anaphylaxis Action Plans. If your child has had anaphylaxis, then ensure this is the plan you receive.

If your child also has asthma, request an asthma action plan.

Photocopy these and provide a copy to the school with a recent photo of your child attached.

  1. Medications

Schools request allergy medication at the school in case of emergency. This may include an EpiPen and/or antihistamine. At the pharmacy, ask for the longest expiry date on these medications.

Record the expiry dates of the medication that you provide to the school. Put a note in your diary a month before expiry reminding you to replace the medication.

  1. Let your child’s friends’ parents know about your child’s allergies

For parties and playdates, let the parents know about your child’s allergies. Let them know that you’re happy to bring a plate or suggest an allergy-friendly snack for your child.

Starting school may seem a big step for your little one, but some preparation in advance can make the transition easier for all. Congratulations on reaching this milestone and I wish you all the best with your child starting school!

“Dr Melissa Raymond is a researcher, mum and physiotherapist based in Melbourne. She supports parents with children with eczema and allergies with evidence-based and helpful information for a healthier future. Access her resources at