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How Do You Handle Sleepovers?

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This is my first time on the forum. I'm wondering if anyone has advice on handling sleepovers or visits to friends houses that include dinners. My nine-year-old just had a sleepover and we had to bring her dinner and dessert after the mom told us they were having breaded chicken, bread, and brownies. The mom knows our child has celiac so we were surprised. Now I think we needed to discuss this well ahead of time (duh) but I wondered how others handle this with other parents. We don't want to impose but also want our daughter to feel cared about and included (she also has type 1 diabetes which complicates things as well). Thanks!

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Why don't you have future sleepovers at your house? As long as you provide all of the food then your child can eat everything provided. If parents want to contribute to the event you could have them bring paper goods, or provide the movie/activity, or even drinks. In the future you could call the parents hosting the event that your daughter has celiac and ask about the meal and what your daughter can bring. By asking what you can bring you are assuring that your daughter has something at the sleepover that everyone can eat as long as hers is in a separate bowl or served first. However, for meals I would still provide your own food for your daughter, a gluten free meal prepared in a gluten household has a high potential for CC. While full inclusion would be great for your daughter, not at the risk of her night being ruined by a accidental glutening.

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This is what we do, whether or not it is the best way to handle it is another matter ;)

My son's(13yrs) friends tend to pull these things together at the last minute and some parents are not good at communicating. I try to keep some extra frozen pizzas, cupcakes or such and boxes of cereal on hand, although I've been known to make a last minute dash to the nearest purveyor of pre-made gluten-free goods. With some friends we can manage to get a menu from the parents and work out a few things he can have and I send some fillers or mains. With others there is no real plan or just ordered pizza so I send a pizza and a box of cereal for breakfast and a snack food. He ends up not having well rounded meals and sometimes maybe not enough but he always ends up more focused on friends and staying up late etc. that the food is not missed much if any.

For snacks I send "normal" things like Lay's Staxx, Post Fruity Pebbles or Coco Pebbles cereal treats(the pre-made, individually wrapped ones), fruit roll ups etc.

I'm always frustrated about the last minute nature of these things and no proper meals but then I realize I live in a different world now and that's just how alot of people live, very spontaneously. Used to be a bit more here too;)

If the parent in charge can cook(some don't, my son ends up with a friend's Dad in charge often, who doesn't cook) I suggest easy things like fruit, eggs, plain veg., bunless hot dogs etc. Things people normally have on hand and also suggest simple, safe cooking methods. I also ask my son to live with less than his favorite, like eggs which he can eat and will at a friends house in the absence of other choices, but wouldn't go for often at home. He can handle those compromises ;)

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We too have been dreading the sleepover since going gluten free. We have had only the 1 party sleepover so far and that went well. The mom called me from the grocery store and asked me for shopping directions (I love this lady for that) Ordered gluten-free pizza , drinks etc.. They had popcorn and chips with fruit rollup at movie time. I provided gluten-free donuts for breakfast and all was good. FYI this all occurred during hurricane Irene Sat pm-Sun am. We got the worst of it Sun pm so it was fine.

This one went fabulous I expect not the same for future ones. But I learned communication is key. I gave a list of options for snacks (kept the list mainstream brands) The mom was thrilled she could get the party snacks at a local grocers. Pizza for dinner. A muffin or donut for breakfast and thats it.

Keep donuts or muffins in freezer for this reason. (as I type this I realize I am out of stock and must replenish ASAP) Create a list of safe snacks include popcorn brands as most people do microwave popcorn these days.

Offer a snack tray of veggies dip and fruit if you feel bad about the heavy junk food night.

Boys will walk into a house with a box of chex cereal and a gallon of Oj under their arm and be fine, girls would like things a little more normal (like everyone else). A few times and you'll figure it out.

I was worried sick and it turned out fine. I got 1 call about Doritos safety but otherwise all was pretty good. practice makes perfect

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I would never trust another person to feed my child. I have done way too much research about what is and isn't safe. I've had neighbors give her rice milk because it's dairy free, but it still has gluten. I just send food and don't expect another parent to make any changes to feed her. It hasn't caused any problems. There have been a couple of times that she's been at a good family friend's house and needed food (for whatever reason...impromptu play date, I'm running late, etc...) where they'll make her some eggs or give her fruit/veggies, that type of thing.

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We send our kids (11 and 12) to birthday parties, sleepovers, sleepaway camps, etc and always just send their own food. Rather than trying to replicate what the other people will be having, we try to send our kids' favorites.

Here are some things that work especially well for sending:

- Chili in a thermos

- Brownies baked in mason jars and layered with fruit

- Yogurt & fruit smoothy in a mason jar

- Beef jerky

- Dried fruit & nuts

- Meatloaf & ketchup

- Fresh veggies & bean dip or nut butter

- Meringue macaroons

I do ask hosts not to do any baking (flour flying around) while the kids are there, and I do remind my kids and the hosts to wash hands frequently and always before AND after eating. I remind everyone to put down paper towels for eating, too, and I send my kids their own cloth napkins and utensils.

This is all made easier because my kids are old enough to notice contamination problems and they are also willing to stick to their diet (which is far more restrictive than just gluten-free).

When hosting, I ask that people not bring gluten into the house and have friends wash hands. Sometimes a kid comes with gluten and we put down paper towels and clean up carefully.

edit to add: I do try and be aware of what kind of eating the other kids will be doing - if it's going to be snacking during a movie or making sundays, of course I'll prepare differently than if it is going to be a sit down dinner!

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Mine has never had a sleep-over with a friend. Only with family and they have gone gluten free anyway. We have had kids here for a sleepover and I make meals that are naturally gluten free rather than try to give them things they may not like. I tend to have rice dishes mainly and the ones who have stayed over have been given their own cereal and a small UHT milk which means I don't have to worry about anything there. You can buy cereal here in a little bowl with a foil top that peels off and they have throw-away plastic spoons which means there is no risk with cross-contamination that way. I'm not game enough to leave her but also she has Autism which means there are also no offers lol.

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I send food and snack. I have told the parents not to feed them anything without asking me first. I will let them(if they understand CC) serve them cut up veggies, fruit and dairy. Otherwise they are to eat what they bring. I have sent snacks for them to share with everyone else too.

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My daughter's sleepovers tend to be last minute . . . the girls have been playing since two, decide they should have a sleep over, daughter comes home to eat supper and get her stuff and then goes back with snacks to share(usually microwave popcorn and fruit chews) and take safe cereal to have in the morning.

If it was planned farther out and she was there at dinner time, we send her dinner with her. One of the girl's family that has her over often will also take the girls out to Five Guys for dinner which I am totally comfortable with.

(Just a note on the side, anytime we go out to eat, I have my daughter order for herself so she knows exactly what to say.)

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I had a celiac friend as a child, and her parents always just sent dinner, dessert and breakfast with her to make sure she had something safe to eat. She was welcome to eat any of our food as she knew how to read labels and knew what wasn't safe, but she had her own food to make sure she had meals. If it was a birthday party sleepover, they would send the same food (she'd have pizza if we were having pizza) but it was just whatever for other nights.

Her parents never expected that we accommodate her, but my parents eventually started just having gluten-free meals when she was over.

At one point, my dad (who loves to cook) got really excited and printed out a long list of unsafe ingredients off some website to assure her and her parents that he could cook her food safely. Haha! While some of us here still would not feel comfortable with someone else preparing our gluten-free kid's food, she lived in a mixed household to begin with and would just check the labels of things he used to cook for us. Worked out fine.

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My daughter's sleepovers tend to be last minute . . . the girls have been playing since two, decide they should have a sleep over, daughter comes home to eat supper and get her stuff and then goes back with snacks to share(usually microwave popcorn and fruit chews) and take safe cereal to have in the morning.

If it was planned farther out and she was there at dinner time, we send her dinner with her. One of the girl's family that has her over often will also take the girls out to Five Guys for dinner which I am totally comfortable with.

(Just a note on the side, anytime we go out to eat, I have my daughter order for herself so she knows exactly what to say.)

I like this advice of having your daughter order for herself. I've been so overbearing and panicky about ordering in restaurants I think I've taken away some of my 8 y.o. daughter's power. I"m going to have her start ordering her own food.

She has gotten very bold about refusing food from other people. So I'm proud of that

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Thanks so much for all the great tips, and also for showing how diverse this community is in dealing with challenges! It's great to feel like others out there understand, and to see also that others are dealing with multiple challenges besides gluten-free.

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