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The Great Cupcake Debate

By Beth Anne Ballance |

Harrison is turning three in just a matter of days.

11 days, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting with a lump in my throat that my baby, my tiny 8 lb baby, could possibly be three so quickly.

Last year I wrote about going allergy-free at his birthday party due to his little buddy having a peanut allergy and how it just wasn’t that big of a deal:

 For Harrison’s birthday, I did not want her to stress.  So it was an easy decision to make his party peanut-free.  We served pizza instead of chicken nuggets & I made the cupcakes at home.  The kids snacked on Goldfish instead of pretzels & jellybeans instead of M&Ms.  We’ve also made it a rule in our house that on playdates with her, Harrison is not to have peanut butter that day.  Not a sandwich, not on his waffles, nothing.  Overkill?  Maybe, but it’s no extra effort on my part to fix a cheese sandwich versus peanut butter & jelly before we head to the park.

This year, we still plan on going allergy-free at his party as the same little girl is invited.

But then I started thinking about his daycare class and sending cupcakes in celebration the Friday before he turns three.  How he’s not at an “allergy-free school” and how I pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches occasionally.  That got me thinking about the flip side of the coin and one momma in particular in his class.

A few months ago, one mom stopped me in the class to ask if I’d read the snack menu.  “I’m sorry,” I smiled.  “I honestly never look.”

“Well,” she huffed.  “I wish I had that luxury but my kid has allergies.”  I nodded and told her that I understood, that I had a seafood allergy and it’s just such a pain.  I turned around to put Harry’s things in his cubby and make sure we were good to go for the day, when I caught ear of her giving the teachers hell about not warning her that another mother had brought in cupcakes the day before.  Her point was that her kid had an allergy and couldn’t eat the cupcakes.  The mom ranted and all I could think was “Hey, lady.  You know this isn’t an allergy-free school.”

I am more than happy to go peanut-free for specific events.  But I chose a school that is not allergy-free and I don’t expect to be held to the requirements of one child in the classroom.  If we were at a nut-free school, then hell would freeze before I sent in cupcakes.  But we’re not and I’d like to send cupcakes with my kiddo and I’d like to not get dirty looks from one of the moms.

So what do you think?  Should we go allergy-free in a non-allergy-free school?  Do I slip a note into that boy’s cubby, letting her know that I’m bringing cupcakes on a Friday?  I’d like to handle this with grace and understanding, but my little guy has been talking non-stop about bringing “happy cakes” for his class and I’d like to do that for him.


More from BA:

Why daycare is awesome.  Also, why it kind of sucks.

Get your kid to sleep in a strange place.

Working mom essentials.

My parenting philosophies.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures at Okay, BA! You can also find her on theTwitters & Facebook.

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About Beth Anne Ballance


Beth Anne Ballance

Beth Anne Ballance is a born and bred Southern Belle, blogging at okay, ba and using words and pictures to celebrate the challenges of motherhood and the joy of life. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Beth Anne's latest posts →

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15 thoughts on “The Great Cupcake Debate

  1. Jenny says:

    I agree with you. The nicest thing you can do is tell the teachers in advance that you want to bring cupcakes so they can tell the mother to bring her own treat for her kid if she wants him/her to participate. It’s not an allergy free school so do your thing. The teachers can give the allergy kid an alternative snack or the mother can bring an allergy free cupcake.

  2. Diana says:

    My kid has a tree nut allergy (though we ARE at a nut free school) and I would be perfectly happy to have you bring in cupcakes with a heads up, as said above, so that maybe she can send in a special treat for her kid.

  3. Kim Q says:

    I don’t have to deal with allergy issues for either of my kids, so maybe I am just ignorant. But what is wrong with cupcakes??? I mean, I wouldn’t go sticking peanut m&ms on the top obviously, but a simple cupcake? Like I said, maybe I am just ignorant.

  4. Kyla says:

    I would let the teacher know in advance that you want to bring cupcakes in for the class so the mother can bring her own treat. I understand her wanting to protect her kid’s health and also not wanting her kid to feel left out, but she is handling it all wrong. The teacher should be proactive about this and send a note home saying that although your school is not allergy free, there is one student who has an x allergy, so if anyone is sending treats for birthdays they need to give a heads up so this other mother can plan accordingly.

  5. Andrea says:

    My daughter has a milk allergy. I wouldn’t expect any of the parents at daycare to make allergy free treats. However, it would be nice to know ahead of time if there is going to be a celebration so I could send something in for her. Maybe the mother can send in prepackaged treats to keep at daycare for celebrations that she isn’t made aware of ahead of time.

  6. Jane says:

    Question: What kind of food allergy does the child have? As a general rule, I wouldn’t ever send in cupcakes, treats, or cookies that had any kind of nut product (peanut or tree nut) in them. That’s partly because DD’s school is nut free but also it’s just so common for kids to have peanut or tree nut allergies. Now as for other allergies, no I don’t think it’s your responsibility to worry about that child’s allergies. I think if it’s a less common allergy (i.e. gluten) that is THAT serious, then the mother needs to have a conversation with the teacher and have some sort of agreement moving forward. Many (not all but many) children have outgrown a lot of allergies by the time they’re Harrison’s age anyway. And for the record, there are a couple of kids in my DD’s class (she is Harrison’s age) and one boy in particular refuses treats when they’re brought in. We brought in cupcakes for DD’s birthday and he didn’t want one- his mom said that he doesn’t like sweets but the teacher also had told me he has food allergies. Everyone (the kid included) was very relaxed about it and the teacher gave him another snack that some of the other kids had along with their cupcakes too. Just my own personal experience. So while I don’t think it is your responsibility, if you decide to go above and beyond, you could bring in the cupcakes and maybe another snack that’s safe for the child to have.

    1. bethanne says:

      @Jane – I don’t know, unfortunately. The mother didn’t disclose, there’s no warning signs, & the teachers have never mentioned it. The only way I know the kid has allergies is because she mentioned it (but wasn’t specific).

      Which is confusing because I’d think if the kid had a serious or life-threatening allergy, they’d probably either pick an allergy-friendly school or at least have a sign up? Maybe? (or maybe not??)

  7. Sarah says:

    I typically talk to the teacher before I bring in any type of food. They can relay the information to any parents who may need to make arrangements for their child. I tend to stay away from anything nutty just because that seems to be so common.

  8. Kate says:

    My daughter is elementary age now, but when she was in daycare, she wasn’t at an “allergy free” school. She’s Ana. to dairy in all forms, peanut and egg. Eliminating peanut is a pretty simple thing if a facility chooses to go that route, but it’s not like I could or would expect a daycare center to eliminate dairy. That’s pretty much a childhood staple, not to mention that it’s on the food pyramid they have to meet.
    That being said, I always asked the teacher’s to give me a heads up if there was going to be a class party, etc. and in general I kept safe snacks there for her to have in the event that someone dropped things off unannounced. It’s really the job of the allergy parent to be pro-active, not the mom’s of the kids in the class. Kudos to you for taking such good care of his little friend and letting her continue to be included. Food allergies are tough, but if a parent teaches their kids that in life, everyone has SOMETHING that makes them different, the times they don’t have quite the same treat won’t be a big deal :)

  9. Jess F says:

    You mentioned in another post that there is a monthly newsletter. Could they post birthdays and other celebrations where there might be treats? That way the mom is informed and it might even be nice for other parents to know it’s Harrison’s bday. They could ‘prep’ their kid. How cute would if be if other little 3 year olds came up to him to wish him happy birthday when you droped him off??!!!??

  10. Jane says:

    Well, since you don’t know what kind of allergy the kid has, I’d speak with the teacher in advance and just let her know you’re bringing in cupcakes. That way, if she has any info that’s good for you to know, she can bring it to your attention then. At the very least, she can make the decision on whether to warn the other mom in advance- which she probably will, given that it’s come up before. Just stay away from anything with peanut butter or other nuts in it (which isn’t hard) and it will be ok.

  11. Delia says:

    I ask ahead of time if there are any allergies. If it is something simple, I’ll bake accordingly. We’ve had an apple allergy in one classmate, but thankfully that’s been it.

  12. akadotty says:

    As a mother of a child with very severe food allergies (anaphylactic), the other mom who was all up in your biz needs to cool it. When your child has food allergies, you work with their teachers and the school to insure safety for them. I always kept their freezer stocked with cupcakes that were safe for her. Then, I didn’t have to keep up with birthdays and everyone was happy. Her preschool happened to be nut-free, but she has many other allergies that I couldn’t expect the other kids not to have (milk, wheat, etc). It’s up to Other Mom to make sure her kid has treats at school and doesn’t feel left out, not you.

  13. Jen says:

    My son has multiple severe food allergies and the reason I would want to know about cupcakes in advance would be so I could make him his own cupcake to bring to class. My son is not in daycare/school right now but he will be soon and it makes me sad that he will be left out of special treats like that unless I’m warned to make something for him ahead of time. It’s so tough for kids that age to be left out, maybe the other mom you spoke to was venting a little bit because its just a PITA to deal with food allergies. I would never expect anyone to make something for my child but I would definitely like a heads up that the other kids will have a special treat so I can make something for my child.

  14. DeathMetalMommy says:

    It is so refreshing to see so many rational parents commenting here. I was expecting at least one to be all militant and say something like “my child’s allergy is a disability and you should think before you exclude him with foods he can’t have and call him out in front of his peers!” Straight up, if my kids develop an allergy you can bet I’m not going to expect the school and the REST OF THE WORLD to accomodate it.

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