Your toddler is too old to be worn! Let him be a kid and run around with others his age!” That’s a phrase I hear all too often. I would love nothing more than to let my two year old explore the world around him without me hovering over him. But sadly, the safest place for him to be in some situations is on my back.
But why? What’s so dangerous with kids playing? I’m not afraid he’s going to get dirty or even scraped knees. My fears are very real and very scary. I’m afraid my two year old may go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is the body’s natural response when someone has been exposed to a severe allergen. Symptoms include: swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure, and dilated blood vessels.
I am the mother of a child with severe food allergies. Playdates are terrifying. Potlucks are my worst fear. Stray Goldfish crackers left on the sidewalk gives me nightmares. A rogue peanut butter and jelly sandwich gives me more anxiety than facing a firing squad. A lone sippy cup could be his demise.
I cannot control what people eat or drink around my son–or even if they clean up after themselves. The only thing that I can control is my son’s immediate exposure to his allergens. Other than avoiding places and people that cannot respect his allergies (which isn’t always possible or fair to him) I need to wear him. When I wear him I know he doesn’t have access to those allergens. We carry an EpiPen Jr. everywhere we go in the event he is exposed.
Wearing my son and speaking out about the dangers of food allergies protects him. I will continue to wear him and advocate for him until he can make safe food choices himself. In the future, if you see a toddler or preschooler being worn, please consider the caregiver’s reasoning for safety and protection.