Little Chef is allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts, as well as having very sensitive skin - just about everything that touches his skin can cause him to break out in a rash or hives. And on a couple occasions, we had to seek out a prescription to stop the reaction from cascading. Being in a foreign environment can be stressful. Sand can cause a rash; pool chemicals can cause a rash; perfumes can cause a rash; different foods can cause a rash. You get the idea. Being in a new and different place has it's challenges. Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Benadryl in the cottage!
This is our plan for staying at Walt Disney World:
Coping with Food Allergies
Disney has made it so easy for people like us to stay at their resorts. For the food allergies, the chef is always on hand at table-service restaurants to let you know what is safe for you. And if you are at a buffet, they will bring you anything you wish from the kitchen so there is no cross-contamination fro the buffet area. Be aware that the chef can take a few minutes to get to you, so if you have a cranky toddler, it's a good idea to get there early, have safe snacks to take the edge off, or make an earlier than usual ADR to avoid peak dining times. If you are at a counter service restaurant or snack cart, simply ask for the ingredient list for anything you may have questions about. They are very knowledgable and happy to help guest with allergies.
I also made this sign for our stroller to help remind others who may not be too cognizant of their own food. I know it's hard to be considerate of everyone's needs in a place like Disney, but it's important that our kid not be in contact with nuts of any sort. (Please try to remember that at the pools! Nuts may be fine for your family, but it's not cool for them to find their way to our towels.) To that end, we put this sign on our stroller while at WDW. It's free to download if you also could use it.
And we always have the EpiPen close at hand. I like to keep it in a seperate bag within the diaper bag so it's easy to see and grab should the need arise. If you don't already have an EpiPen case, I made this easy drawstring bag from an old toddler t-shirt. It's easy to slip on my wrist if we are just headed to breakfast at our resort, and it can hold my phone and the EpiPen easily. You can find all the details in this post for how to make your own.
Coping with Skin Allergies
One of our other tricks is to stay in a villa. It's more expensive, but it's well worth it to us to have the use of a full kitchen and washer/dryer. Even though Disney provides laundry detergent, we always take our own. Little Chef breaks out from anything other than Tide Free. I finally got wise and started using an old bath wash bottle to carry our laundry soap back and forth. I marked the "capfuls" on the side of the bottle with a sharpie, so you can just pour in what you need for each load. Since we use cloth diapers, I make sure to take enough detergent for everyday we are there plus two extra loads. I often come home with just one load left in the bottle! I also make sure to wash anything new before we wear it. Having enough soap to do a load a day allows for new t-shirts to be washed and worn the next day at the parks.
Since Little Chef is still little, I pack our toddler cot and his sleeping bag (which has been washed in our own detergent). This prevents breakouts from the bed linens (which has only happened once). He likes being low to the ground and I like how allergen-free it is for him. Win-win.
We also rent an additional stroller while at Walt Disney World, but we always have Minnie in the rental and Little Chef stays in his own. We don't switch them around. This allows him to stay away from anything that may have been left on the other stroller.
As a side note, Disney does sell the Coppertone Water Babies sunscreen. This does not cause Little Chef to break out, and his skin definitely needs to be protected from the sun!
And that's it. Just a few ways we handle our allergies while in Disney. I'd love to hear about your tips and tricks too. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!