When Your Gluten Free Child is Invited to a Sleepover

By Jenny Stegen | September 5, 2020

Boys having a sleepover

We never want our kids to be excluded because of dietary restrictions. Thankfully our own children have friends with AMAZING parents that care about feeding them safely. They make the extra effort to ask questions and to get educated. They have gluten free food and snacks on hand just for our kids. Awesome, right!?! Unfortunately, not all parents will be quite as easy to work with, so it will be up to you to make sure your child eats safely when he or she is away from home. We want our kids to have time away from home that is fun and worry-free!

Here are some tips to make this as headache-free as possible:

  1. First and foremost, communicate with the parent or adults who will be in charge of the meals. Explain that your child must eat gluten free, and that food preparation is just as important as food choices. Make sure they have your phone number for questions.
  2. Next, you can refer them to my list of easy kid-approved GF meals specifically written for those hosting a gluten free guest. These are meals that are quick, easy, and most importantly, things kids commonly eat and love. People love ideas – they don’t enjoy thinking about what to prepare (at least I don’t!) – so share with them your ideas and tell them exactly what products you like to use.
  3. Make sure to refer them to this quick guide to gluten free food prep. This is a quick, easy, step by step guide with graphics included. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a visual learner. Refer them to this guide and save yourself the time and trouble of having to explain how to prevent cross-contamination. Additionally, I created a letter for parents or cooks summarizing the process of safe food preparation.
  4. Offer to provide food for your child. Some people may not feel comfortable, or they may be worried they will make your child sick. Always offer to drop off food or send food with your child. Have a game plan. This backpack cooler is an amazing and discrete way to send food with your child. It can stay in their locker all day. I suggest you do not use ice. Use our favorite ice packs. This is a sure way to keep items cold for a full day and no one knows its a cooler! Just make sure things get placed in the fridge once they arrive at their destination. It won’t keep things cold for more than 12 hours.
  5. Remember to invite the parents/adults to call with any questions or concerns. Let them know you appreciate it when people call with questions rather than guess at the right answer.

I hope you find these tips helpful. It can be hard to let go and trust someone else to be in charge of our child’s meals. I completely get that! Please use these tips and give it a try. It is important to allow your child social opportunities away from home. Most likely, you and your child will have no regrets.

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