April 20, 2023

Creating an Allergy-Safe Outdoor Play Space for Your Child

Creating an Allergy-Safe Outdoor Play Space for Your Child

Playing outdoors is a fun and healthy way for children to spend time. However, it can be dangerous for children with allergies and asthma. With extra planning and effort, you can create an allergy-safe outdoor play space where your child can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine without fear of an allergic or asthma reaction.

Assessing Your Child’s Allergies

The first step to creating an allergy-safe outdoor play space is understanding your child’s allergies. If your child hasn’t been tested for allergies, it’s best to make an appointment with a healthcare professional who can help your family identify triggers. Once you know your child’s specific allergies, you can take steps to minimize their exposure to those allergens. It’s also important to teach your child to recognize their allergy symptoms and what to do if they experience an allergic reaction.

Common Allergens and Allergic Reactions

Common allergens triggering allergic reactions include tree nuts, peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, eggs, fish, and shellfish. Allergic reactions can range from mild allergy symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing, to severe reactions, like anaphylaxis. Keep an emergency kit with necessary medications, and inform your child’s caregivers of their allergies and symptoms.

Choosing Allergy-Safe Play Equipment and Toys

If your child has allergies, consider creating an allergy-safe outdoor space for them to enjoy. When selecting play equipment and toys, look for hypoallergenic materials and avoid those that contain allergenic materials, such as certain metals, woods, or plastics. For example, choose equipment made of stainless steel or aluminum instead of copper or nickel. You can also select allergy-friendly outdoor toys, such as kites, bubbles, and balls made from hypoallergenic materials. When purchasing toys, be sure to check for allergen-free certifications.

Allergy-Friendly Products and Ordering Online

Consider using allergy-friendly products in your outdoor play space. Look for items labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “allergy-friendly.” Many companies offer these products, from outdoor furniture to toys and games. If you have trouble finding allergy-friendly products in your local stores, consider looking into placing an order online. Many companies offer a wide range of allergy-friendly products and can ship them directly to your home. Be sure to read product labels and reviews carefully to ensure they are appropriate for your child’s needs.

Creating a Low-Allergen Garden and Landscape

Your garden can be a source of allergens, but with careful planning, you can create a low-allergen landscape. Choose allergy-friendly plants, trees, and flowers for your garden, and avoid those that produce high levels of pollen or are known to cause allergic reactions, such as ragweed or goldenrod. Consider alternatives to allergy-triggering elements, such as mulch made of gravel or recycled rubber, and grass types like Bermuda or St. Augustine that are less likely to produce pollen. You can also minimize pollen exposure in the play area, such as using a leaf blower to remove pollen from surfaces and equipment.

Monitoring Pollen Counts and Protective Clothing

Pollen is a common allergen that can cause allergic reactions in many people. Monitor the pollen count in your area and avoid outdoor play during high pollen levels. You can find pollen count information from local weather stations and online resources like our Local Allergy Report. Protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants can help reduce allergen exposure during outdoor play. Consider investing in clothing that protects against allergens, such as those made from hypoallergenic materials.

Post-Play Routines and Preventing Cross-Contamination

After the outdoor play, encourage your child to wash their hands and change their clothes to minimize the risk of allergen transfer indoors. Also, clean any outdoor equipment or toys your child played with to remove any potential allergens.

Understanding Allergy Cross Contamination

Allergy cross-contamination can occur when a child with a food allergy or environmental allergy comes into contact with an allergen indirectly. When it comes to children playing outdoors, allergy cross-contamination can happen in several ways, including:

  • Contact with outdoor allergens: Children with environmental allergies, such as pollen, dust, or mold, can be exposed to these allergens while playing outside. These allergens can stick to their clothes, hair, and skin, and when they come back inside, they can spread around the house, causing an allergic reaction.
  • Sharing food or drinks: Children may share food or drinks while playing outside, which can lead to allergy cross-contamination. For example, a child with a peanut allergy may accidentally consume a peanut-containing snack that a friend brought to the playground.
  • Touching contaminated surfaces: Outdoor surfaces, such as picnic tables or benches, can be contaminated with food allergens, such as peanuts, milk, or eggs. If a child with a food allergy touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, they can have an allergic reaction.

To prevent allergy cross-contamination while children are playing outdoors, it is essential to take precautions, such as:

  • Educating children: Teach children with allergies how to recognize and avoid allergens, read labels, and speak up for themselves if they are offered food they cannot eat.
  • Washing hands: Encourage children to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, especially after playing with pets or handling food.
  • Carrying emergency medication: Children with severe allergies should always have their epinephrine auto-injector.
  • Sanitizing surfaces: If your child has a food allergy, carry sanitizing wipes to clean any surfaces they may come into contact with before they use them.

Educating Your Child and Their Playmates

Teaching Your Child About Allergies

It is essential to educate your child about their allergies and safety measures to prevent allergic reactions. Discuss their allergies and explain why they must avoid certain foods and substances. Consider role-playing scenarios to help your child learn how to handle situations where their allergies may be at risk.

Communicating with Other Parents and Children

Communication is key when it comes to managing allergies in social settings. Be sure to communicate with other parents and caregivers about your child’s allergies and safety needs. Encourage your child to communicate with other adults and their playmates about their allergies and why certain safety measures are necessary.

Managing Allergies and Allergens in Food

Food allergies are a common source of allergen exposure for children. It’s important to avoid major allergens in foods such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish in any food or snack items. Also, consider avoiding them in any plant life, fruit, or flowers you plant.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Yogurt

Many children with food allergies, particularly those with celiac disease or lactose intolerance, may need to follow a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. Consider offering gluten-free bread and dairy-free yogurt as healthy snack options.

Allergy-Friendly Snacks and Treats

Offering healthy snacks and treats free from major allergens can help keep your child safe while encouraging healthy eating habits. As healthy snack options, consider offering fresh fruit, gluten-free crackers, cheese alternatives (if dairy-free), or allergy-friendly granola bars.

Homemade Allergy-Friendly Snacks

If you can’t find allergy-friendly snacks in your local stores, consider making your family their own. Many allergy-friendly snack recipes are available online, and making your snacks allows you to control the ingredients and avoid potential allergens. For example, you can create delicious gluten-free and dairy-free bites using a combination of gluten-free oats, nut-free butter, and dairy-free chocolate chips.

Allergy-Friendly Chocolate and Candy

Chocolate and candy are popular treats for children but can be a source of allergen exposure. Look for allergy-friendly chocolate and candy bars free from major allergens like wheat, tree nuts, and peanuts. Many companies specialize in creating allergy-friendly chocolate products, and you can order online to have these treats delivered to your house.

Allergy-Friendly Baking

Baking at home allows you to control the ingredients and avoid potential allergens. Look for gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free baking recipes online, and experiment with allergy-friendly flour, such as almond flour or tapioca flour. You can create delicious gluten and egg-free bread with a mix of gluten-free flour and add flavor with cinnamon or other spices. Homemade gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate chip cookies are also a hit for kids and adults.

Allergy-Friendly Companies and Allergy Community

Many companies now offer allergy-friendly products, including snacks, meals, and household items. Look for companies specializing in allergy-friendly products, such as Enjoy Life Foods, and explore their allergy community and product lines. Joining the allergy community can provide valuable resources, support, and information for allergy families.

Reading Labels and Avoiding Added Sugar and Preservatives

When purchasing allergy-friendly products, you must read labels carefully to ensure they are allergens-free and meet your dietary needs. Be mindful of added sugar and preservatives, the combination of which may worsen allergy symptoms in some individuals. Opt for products with simple, natural ingredients and minimal added sugar.

Creating an Allergy-Safe Outdoor Space for Family Gatherings

Creating an allergy-safe outdoor space is beneficial not only for your child but also for family gatherings and events. Taking the necessary precautions ensures everyone can enjoy the outdoor space without the risk of allergic reactions.

Food Safety and Cross Contamination

When hosting family gatherings, be mindful of food safety and the risk of cross-contamination. Clearly label foods that contain major allergens, and consider providing separate serving utensils for each dish. If you’re serving buffet-style, place allergen-free foods at the beginning of the buffet line to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Allergy-Friendly Activities and Games

Plan allergy-friendly activities and games that everyone can enjoy. For example, consider setting up a craft station with hypoallergenic materials or organizing a scavenger hunt that doesn’t involve food items. Be creative and consider ways to make the gathering fun and inclusive for all guests.


Creating an allergy-safe outdoor play space for your child is crucial for their health and safety. By assessing your child’s allergies, choosing allergy-safe equipment and toys, creating a low-allergen garden and landscape, maintaining an allergy-safe play space, managing allergens during outdoor play, and educating your child and their playmates, you can provide a safe and enjoyable outdoor play experience. Consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice and support to ensure your child’s safety and well-being. Then, with some planning and effort, you can create an allergy-friendly outdoor play space that your child—and the entire family—will love.