Medical ID Bracelets & Food Allergies

Updated on April 24, 2013
M.P. asks from De Pere, WI
13 answers

I am looking at getting "advertising" (medical ID, zipper pulls, shoe tags, something) for my son's peanut allergy. He is young so it isn't like he is going to be away from us at school, at friends houses, etc. quite yet, but I figure better safe than sorry and why not start him getting used to it??

He will only be 3 in June so I am looking for something that will be easy/comfortable for him to wear. There are so many products out there just from one quick google search - various bracelets, necklaces, even temporary tattoos - anything and everything you can think of! The tattoos I think are great for future - i.e. field trips or events where there will be other parents/volunteers/etc in charge that aren't normally with him.

Just curious - what do you find works best for you and your young child with medical issues?

We have taught him to ask if there are nuts in cookies, candy, etc. But we have learned we need to take it a step further, and now that he is older, educate him what peanut butter looks like, how it might be served and to use caution. Any tips in that area??

Also, food allergy moms, is there any resource that you have found particularly helpful that you have shared with family, friends, child's caregivers, etc? Again, I did another google search and came up with so much! If there is anything you would recommend, I appreciate it! :-)

ETA - we have learned that his allergy is on the more "severe" side. We have been instructed to carry an epipen because he has had symptoms of anaphylaxis during both of his experiences and Benadryl won't help those more severe symptoms. His reaction was not instant as many are, but the DRs have warned us that doesn't mean his reactions will always be "delayed". Both times it was peanut butter and "small" amounts according to those who gave it to him. Dr. has said having actual peanuts and higher quantity could cause worse reactions.

We do educate our "community" and give often reminders. And we realize that there will be many more experiences like we had last night. But like I said, I am trying to be proactive. I can't control that he has this allergy and I cant control the fact that there will be slip ups in his future, but I can control things I do to try and PREVENT those slip ups :-) So, here I go! :-)

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answers from Grand Forks on

In Canada we have Medic Alert bracelets. Children with severe allergies and medical conditions are even able to get these free through school. Medic Alert is the main supplier of medical id's here, so everyone is familiar with them and would recognize one if a child or adult were wearing one. When we take first aid we are always taught to look for a Medic Alert bracelet. Also, kids with epi-pens usually wear the epi-pen in a fanny pack around the waist, which also identifies the child as having allergies.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have some big stickers that I put on my child and can also go on his lunchbox. I have some from Mabel Labels. LabelDaddy has them too.

Plus I ordered some custom ones that were a white background that had the medical alert symbol plus the allergies. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I got them. They worked well for dark shirts, since a lot of the allergy stickers are red instead of white. I had to order custom ones because he has multiple food allergies so the stock peanut ones weren't enough.

You could probably make your own if you wanted to and had a computer with printer. The custom white ones that I got were just round stickers and a cut-n-pasted image of the medical alert symbol with some text.

Santa also brought a medical id bracelet for my son (and an identity bracelet for his brother that is not allergic). But, so far we are having a hard time getting him to wear it. We had it re-sized (links removed) because even the small size is big. My goal is to get him used to it this summer because it will be a drop off pre-school next year and not parent participation. I like the bracelet in case something bad happens it has my phone number. I do agree with others that people won't notice it easily so a big sticker (maybe even front and back) is probably the most visible.

I think my son would like to wear a neck (dog tags) one but I worry about the strangulation issues at his age.

Allermates has cards for giving out at restaurants. You could give those to his teacher and friends. It's two sided so take a look at both sides of the image to see if you like them. I'm planning on laminating some. Here is the link:

As far as educating, we have been teaching him to ask if something has nuts in it and if he isn't sure, not to eat it. He is good about asking, but he would also take something if someone just blindly said it was safe. I also bring extra snacks for school so if the school snack isn't suitable, he has something to eat. At the parent participation school some of the parents are bad about it and I've had to nix stuff....especially the stuff they just bring in from their cupboard in a ziploc bag. For birthday parties and such, I make and bring a safe cupcake for him. If there are multiple birthdays coming up, I freeze some so I don't have to make a full batch again.

You could try making a sheet for his friends house that explains what is and isn't a safe food as well as safe practices and what to do if there is an issue (benadryl / epi-pen).

For example, where to look on the ingredients to see if it contains peanut, may contain peanuts, may contain trace peanuts, processed on a machine that processes peanuts, and/or processed in a facility that processes peanuts. Also, point out that if it doesn't have anything in bold at the bottom about allergies, they need to look at all the parenthesis ingredients listed. I've only seen that happen once so far. Also, I've seen a brownie package list on the front that it is free from a bunch of allergens and then the ingredients list said it was made in a facility that processes the allergens.

For safe practices, you could explain about cross contamination and ask that peanut butter not be served when he is there (even if he isn't the one eating it). Or the restaurant cards may be suitable for this.

If he has an epi-pen, make sure the adults where he will be know how to use it. They all come with trainer pens so you can show them how before leaving him. I had some expired full ones so we tried them out on an orange. It was actually a useful learning experience. The real epi-pens make a loud click when the injection goes and there is a tendency to pull back instead of leaving it in for 10 seconds. It might be worth emphasizing not to pull back. I also always bring 2 pens.

Initially, I typically offer to bring a snack for him when going to a friends house. Overtime, his friends parents have gotten good about asking what he can have. My family actually takes pictures of the ingredients lists for any baked products, texts it to me, and asks me if it's okay. :-)

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answers from Denver on

I love Fiddle Dee IDs ( If you look under "accessories" you'll find field trip disposable bracelets, stickers for small kids, etc. We bought the bright orange waterproof velcro band.

Some important things we were taught: if you buy a bracelet that you're going to customize (my daughter's has a waterproof insert inside where we can write what her medical problems are): don't use words that aren't immediately recognizable to the ordinary person. For example, don't write "ventricular", just write "heart". Don't write "anaphylaxis", just write "severe allergy". It may not be a trained medical professional but a bystander or teacher's aide or another parent who reads the ID first, and you want words that will jump out at them, not make them stop and figure out what the problem could be. Also, don't bother writing your names out. To save space, just write "mom" or "parents" and your phone numbers. Teach your child if at all possible to show the arm with the bracelet. Role play and see if your child can practice pointing to the bracelet. Even in some medical emergencies, your child may not be able to speak but might be able to make someone aware of the precious information included on that medical ID.

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answers from Albuquerque on

I don't personally think the medical ID bracelet would do much good for a child with a peanut allergy. My daughter, who is six, was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at 14 month so we've been living with this for quite a while. Not once has a parent or care giver pulled up her sleeve to check to see if she can have the snack they're serving. (sounds silly, I know - but no one thinks to check a medical bracelet for a food allergy)

Instead, we educate everyone... especially her. She knows to ask about the foods she's eating, all of our friends know, and so do her teachers. We carry an Epi-pen everywhere, and unless the actual package is there, she avoids baked goods, home made sandwiches, granola bars and anything with chocolate in it since chocolate products are the most frequently cross-contaminated.

I'm with you about wanting to control as much as possible... I just don't think a bracelet will offer much assistance, and may give you a false sense of security.

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answers from St. Louis on

my younger son is 16 & allergic to peanut. Just this school year, he was sent to the nurse. He was more than a little put out about it, too....especially when I sent the teacher a "thank you" email!

He'd bought some cookie/cake pops at the concessions stand, & randomly just popped it into his mouth as he entered the classroom. When he realized he'd just eaten PB, he spit out the remainder into the teacher's trashcan. The teacher immediately sent him to the nurse, much to my son's embarrassment.

In cases such as this, my son requires a dose of Benadryl & that's it. & probably, he could skip it since it seems as if the allergy is working its way out of his system. But I am very thankful the teacher was aggressive in his approach to my son's stupidity!

(sigh) We've been dealing with this for about 12 years now. Since Benadryl has been the cure, we've had it easier than most parents. At one point, I did consider the stickers for events away from me. In the end, I decided to take it on Faith.....I made sure all teachers/guides/leaders knew of my son's allergy.....& I trusted them to provide appropriate care for him. + my son knew how sick peanut made he was usually pretty good about checking ingredients. This go-round a few months ago was a rare event for him!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I am a mom of a child with severe food allergies and anaphylactic reaction to tree nuts. I also have severe allergies and have been treated by allergists for the past 20 years. The care we've received has made a world of difference in the quality of our lives.

The best on-line resource is Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) which can be found at (Until recently, the site was known as Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network --FAAN, so you may still hear some people refer to it by that name).

As a mom who has had to use the EpiPen on my son in the past, I do suggest that if your child is prescribed an EpiPen, you familiarize yourself with the process (there are on-line resources) and practice with the training pens that come in the package. You don't want to be fumbling with directions and uncertainty during an emergency. Ensure that anyone who watches him knows how and when to use the EpiPen.

Don't expect there to be more instances like you had recently. Instead, expect that you CAN train him to never ingest anything unless you, dad, or other allergy-educated person has cleared the food item, or he is old enough to read the labels and ask questions.

At preschool, there should be a picture of your son, posted on a paper that includes his name and food allergies-- printed clearly so there is no misunderstanding. This is particularly necessary when there is a sub in the
room who may not be familiar with your son's allergies.

You are correct when you say that another exposure to his allergen may cause a more serious reaction. Just because the first or second exposure resulted in a less severe reaction does not mean that subsequent exposures will also be less severe. In fact, it is often the opposite. He needs to stay away from all peanut products and also anything with tree-nuts as there is often cross-contamination in the processing of the nuts.

I'm not trying to alarm you or in any way suggest that the world should bend over backwards to change for those of us with allergies. However, education and awareness are your best lines of protection. You need to the most accurate, up-to-date information, have an allergy action plan (this is made by your allergist), and everyone who watches your son when you're not around should have a written copy of the plan. When he enters elementary school, the school will require a copy of this plan if he still carries the EpiPen or requires other emergency medication.

I notice you said Dr. in your post. If you're not working with an allergist, it is probably time to see one. While your ped can prescribe allergy meds, there are often other conditions and complications that can accompany allergies that should really be evaluated by someone who specializes in the field.

It will be okay, and you can teach your son age-appropriate things to keep him safe and happy in all of his environments!

J. F.

ETA: Just wanted to add that benadryl, DOES NOT stop an
anaphylactic reaction, which is a life-threatening condition. Epipen or similar is necessary when anaphylaxis is suspected. All parents, babysitters, teachers, and care-giver should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

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answers from Chicago on

When my son was little, I found N-Style. They have really cute braclets that are adjustable and not expensive. You can have a tag engraved.



answers from Dallas on

I have never thought about using something like that but my kids allergy wont put them into antafalactic shock (Or how ever it's spelled). But it so hard to make sure everyone knows. I felt like tattooing it on my boys forhead in daycare. They would have new teachers and forget to tell them no milk. So usually each time they would get a new teacher it would mean a trip to the ER with servire ear infection because by the time it was cought we couldn't wait to go to their PCP. It's good you are teaching him young. It was hard for my boys seeing others eat stuff that looked so good and not be able to have it. The braclet is a good idea but noone would really look at it I don't think unless there was a reaction. I could be wrong.

Good luck!!!



answers from Raleigh on

Honestly, the only real prevention for my son was putting the absolute fear of god in him about baked goods, candy, etc- anything were peanut butter might be lurking. We started when he was about 3 years old. In addition to peanut, he had a severe egg allergy. So we told him what foods were ok, and what weren't. We showed him peanut butter, what the jar looked like, etc. We taught him to ask a grown-up with every new food he ever put in his mouth whether it had egg or peanut.
This might be frowned upon, but we took the practice epipen and showed him what would happen if he wasn't careful about asking permission. That he might get a big needle in the leg and he could die if he ate something new without asking first. With that fear in place, he always asked about everything new- even if it was a piece of fruit-lol!
I guess it all worked better that we anticipated, because when all his food allergies were cleared just this last month (at 6 1/2 yo), he was extremely fearful of even trying peanut butter or egg. We thought he would be so excited to finally get to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but alas, he won't even touch the jar. It's going to take time and baby steps to undo the fear we put in him. But I would do it all over again if I had to. It worked for 6 years and we never had any terrifying incidents.
Now with the food allergies gone, he's developed pretty nasty environmental allergies. I guess I just can't win for losing.



answers from Anchorage on

One of the boys in my son's class has a medic alert bracelet and a medic alert sweat band to wear over it for sports. seems to work fine.



answers from Rochester on

Check out the Mabel's Labels web site. They have labels and wristbands that can be used to alert others about allergies. I love this company's products! They are durable and last forever!



answers from Washington DC on

I posted on another thread options for lunchbox labels and bracelets. Friend of mine uses for her son and I've had good luck with Mabel's Labels for years

In preschool it is not really an issue for my DD but next year I am considering putting some form of food allergy label on her lunchbox or something. Apples are an unusual allergy, but they do make her sick.

My DD can tell you "I can't eat apples" but she's 4 and can't read the label. Sometimes the juice box has an apple on it and she avoids it but we learned the hard way that Juicy Juice cuts their white grape juice with apple. I've taught her she can always ask for water if she's not sure, but it can be hard. To this point she's tolerated pectin and heavily processed apple (if she can't have pectin anymore, then things like yogurt are out - it's a thickener!).

Even so, I tell people FOR her. I remind the people at Sunday School, at friends' houses, at parties. I bring her own juice or drink. Friend made DD her own cupcake because she had made the rest of them with applesauce. So once your "community" knows, it's easier, but I think you are on the right track to teach him to speak up, be alert and avoid what might possibly make him sick.

ETA: MedicAlert bracelets for kids:

The alert symbol is pretty well known. My sister has something similar for penicillin.



answers from Los Angeles on

The best way we have educated my son's friends (really, their parents) is having ongoing conversations. The ALL know that he has allergies and, aside from fresh fruit, no one ever feeds him anything without my permission. Several have asked me for lists of safe snack foods, especially when they are hosting parties or putting together snacks for sports games, and they do their best to make sure they always have at least one thing on hand that he can eat safely.

When he was in preschool, they had one parent provide snack each day for the whole class. Every child wore a name tag at school, and those with allergies had them clearly marked on the name tag. I spoke extensively with the teachers about it and they, too, knew never to feed him anything that I hadn't approved unless it was fruit. Each morning, I would check the snack and I would tell my son, the parent who provided it, and at least one teacher which items were safe and which were not. I always had a backup on hand in case there wasn't enough to fill him up.

Since he was about four, he was able to clearly communicate his allergies to caregivers and knew always to ask before eating. Never once in preschool, or now in kindergarten, have we had a slip up at school or a friend's house that required Benadryl. We carry on epipen, but so far he hasn't had a reaction severe enough to require it.

We've never had a bracelet or other form of ID on his body. I just give whoever is caring for him an Epipen (make sure it isn't expired), a couple of single-dose Benadryl tablets and a clear list of his allergies, along with my phone number.

He is allergic to dairy (his most severe), eggs, peanut and tree nuts. We have been very fortunate to have friends and caregivers who are not only understanding, but who go out of their way to make sure he is taken care of.

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