Many families look forward to sharing a meal away from home and sometimes it’s a necessity to grab food on the go, particularly when you’re travelling. Of course, you can take along a milk substitute, such as Nutramigen with LGG®, for your baby or toddler with cow’s milk allergy, as well as some other snacks you know are milk-free. But if you’re going for a meal in a restaurant with your child it’s a good idea to plan ahead and ask the right questions to ensure a safe dining experience. Here’s what you can do to prepare.

Research allergy-friendly restaurants

To help you decide whether a restaurant can cater for your child’s allergies, have a look on their website to see whether the allergy information is available online. If possible, call ahead and discuss menu items that would be suitable for your child, or ask them if they could make something ’off-menu’ that will be suited to your child’s dietary needs. It’s always best to check in advance so you can be more relaxed during the meal. It’s also a good idea to ask around for recommendations from other parents of children with allergies.

Create a cow’s milk allergy alert card

This is simply a pocket-size card stating that your child has a cow’s milk allergy and explaining what that means. It should ask the restaurant staff to make sure that no milk products are used in the preparation of your child’s food and that the utensils and other tools used to prepare their food are cleaned thoroughly before they’re used. It also should thank them for their help. You should also include hidden milk sources to assist the chef in identifying unexpected foods that could be a problem for a child with a cow’s milk allergy.

Look out for hidden milk sources

When ordering, ask for a list of all of the ingredients in dishes you’re considering. Sometimes seafood or meat might have been cooked in butter or cream or vegetable side dishes may have had butter or cheese used in their preparation. Ask for menu items to be served ’dry’, and keep an eye out for unmentioned add-ons. When it comes to dessert, ask if they are made on-site; if not, your chef may not know all of the ingredients used and whether they’re suitable for a child with cow’s milk allergy.

Say thanks!

Don’t forget to show your appreciation when you have a good experience at an allergy-friendly restaurant. Thank the staff for helping your family enjoy a meal out despite your child’s cow’s milk allergy and pass on your recommendation to other parents of children with allergies.