A Parent’s Perspective (Part 1)

To mark Food Allergy Week 2024, we bring you a story written for us by a mother. It’s a 14-year rollercoaster of managing allergies, starting from when her daughter, Edie, was 5 months old. With one in 10 children developing a proven food allergy in their first year of life, we hope it helps families starting their own allergy journey – while providing new insights for all parents and educators.

PART 1: Early years & diagnoses

Our daughter, Edie, is 14 years old. Since she was 5 months old, we have navigated allergies and food-related autoimmune disease together. Midnight doctor visits, food challenges gone wrong, and forensic analysis of food labels: it hasn’t been easy. And while it adds complexity to everyday life, it has also helped shape Edie’s resilience and maturity.

The very beginning

Edie suffered from eczema from when she was a baby. Beyond rosy, her cheeks often became raw and infected, requiring antibiotics. When she was 5 months old, we took her to a clinic for a treatment plan, including specific moisturisers, cortisone ointments and daily baths with a special oil. With no sustained improvement, we eventually took her to a paediatric dermatologist who suspected dairy and/or wheat allergies. Soon after, our 7-month-old endured an extensive “skin prick” test. She was a superstar and much braver than her anxious mother. We discovered she had a strong allergy to eggs, which we hadn’t yet introduced in her diet (as per the advice back then). The specialist also suspected an “atypical” reaction to dairy and wheat. The upshot was a diet without eggs, wheat or dairy.

The rollercoaster

And so began a maze of allergy tests and consultations. On advice, we successfully re-introduced dairy, which was a relief. Every year, we saw a paediatric allergist and her reaction to egg was always highly positive. When she was two, we were told there was risk of anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction) and given our first EpiPen, which we’ve carried ever since. It delivers a fixed dose of adrenaline to treat anaphylaxis in an emergency, buying you time while you wait for an ambulance or get to hospital. Thankfully, we’ve never had to use it – though we’ve come very close. It was a steep learning curve and we explained it to Edie without making her fearful. As confused “newbies”, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia was an invaluable source of practical advice and information, and still is.


When Edie started at childcare, we explained the risks, filled in the official “Action Plan for Anaphylaxis”, supplied her EpiPen, and helped them complete an individual management plan. There was an in-house chef at the centre but she didn’t seem confident managing allergies. And when she was away, we had to re-explain the issue. “The menu” was a daily conversation that always delayed drop-off. Every day we worried that Edie would be exposed to egg – and every day we were relieved when she came home happy and well. Overall, her allergies were managed with care and sensitivity but there were some worrying moments. One day, I turned up to see the centre had adopted three chickens. They were letting children collect the eggs, and one had been smashed in Edie’s room. Raw egg was everywhere – with Edie playing unsupervised nearby.

Times have changed and awareness (and training) have advanced so much. However, I still can’t overstate the value of consideration and communication on both sides. Sometimes, we felt that Edie’s allergies were treated as an inconvenience – but, for us, it could be a life-or-death situation. At the same time, it was important to advocate for Edie in a calm, respectful and realistic way. The educators (both in childcare and primary school) who made an effort to understand Edie’s allergies, and check in with us regularly, made such a difference. It eased our anxiety more than words can express.

The food challenges

During Edie’s pre-school years, our specialist recommended food challenges to test the true extent of her egg allergy – as heating and cooking eggs can change the form of the proteins. During a day-stay hospital admission, incremental amounts of egg would be given to Edie over a few hours, with observations throughout to monitor for any reaction.

The first test involved “well baked egg” (like in cakes and biscuits) – and was a success! The second test, involving lightly cooked egg, was not.  After only 7/8 teaspoon of scrambled egg, Edie developed hives, abdominal pain and vomiting. The challenge was stopped, with a big dose of antihistamines and careful monitoring. They recommended we continue to strictly avoid lightly cooked and raw egg – and keep our EpiPen close.

Starting school – and a surprise

Fast-forward to 5-year-old Edie. We had moved to Queensland and she had started school with a round of teacher meetings and action plans to manage the risks in a new (and bigger) environment. The Allergy & Anaphylaxis checklist for starting school was a guiding light for us.

During that year, we gave Edie peanut butter on toast. She had eaten food with peanuts in the past, and had always tested negative for peanut allergy. This time, she ate a tiny mouthful, became pale and developed a hive or two. We quickly searched for an allergist in our new city and took her for another skin prick test. Suddenly, we had a confirmed peanut allergy. We were told to assume it could cause anaphylaxis, as reactions can escalate with subsequent exposures. On the positive side, the specialist advised us to slowly reintroduce wheat into Edie’s diet, and she was tolerated it without reaction. Hello bread! With a changed-up list of allergies, it was time to inform school, update action plans, educate Edie, and talk to our families.


In Part 2: Close calls, building awareness and a new surprise.

At The Wellbeing Food Co, we specialise in helping clients navigate multiple allergies, intolerances and culturally-sensitive dietary needs. Special meals are individually sealed and labelled to eliminate guesswork and cross-contamination risk. Because every child deserves great food – and providers and parents deserve certainty, every day.


Want to improve your management of allergies and dietary needs? Read more here or call us today.