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March 13, 2006

Playdough at Preschool

My daughter has had a wheat allergy from infancy. Long before she was born, playdough was a favorite activity in my house. Being the (overly?) careful mother that I am, we got the playdough out only when my allergic daughter was napping. She was none the wiser! Over time, her reaction to wheat began to lessen, so she also partook in this favorite pastime.

I had become pretty good at managing the wheat allergy and felt confident sending her to preschool. Her nut and egg allergies definitely got way more attention! I remembered to discuss making bird feeders with lard instead of peanut butter, not using eggshells for art projects, and choosing wheat and nut free cereals and candy for counting activities. It was very clear that my daughter would only eat food sent from home. All was good.

Then I got the call from the school that my daughter’s arms and hands were covered in hives and she was miserable. We quickly determined that it was the playdough she was playing with. Our preschool makes their own playdough, both to save money and because it’s more pliable for the kids. Upon further discussion, I realized that it was basically wheat flour, salt and water. Apparently, not the best combination for my daughter!

I brought her home from school and gave her Benadryl and a bath. She was fine. She learned not to play with the playdough at school. And I learned that no matter how many precautions we take, life happens. So I learn from it. And hopefully, by passing the information along, other people can learn from it too!

Posted by Ann Marie at March 13, 2006 11:18 AM


My wheat allergic daughter has skin reactions to play dough, too. I make playdough for the school myself (using rice flour and a standard recipe off the internet). After our first bad experience with wheat-based dough we waited a long time before playing with it again. When we knew she wouldn't try to eat it or something we then tried using Proteque on all exposed skin while she played with it. It worked. Proteque is a allergen barrier lotion and it's made our lives a lot easier. It protects her sensitive skin from a lot of things she reacts to. I still prefer her to play with rice-flour dough at school since I worry about the residue on other children and the tables, but I now actually allow my kids to keep the little Play Doh samples they get in birthday party goodie bags. My daughter knows to ask to have her lotion put on before she plays with it.

Posted by: Laura at March 16, 2006 10:08 AM

Laura, I was intrigued by your mention of Proteque - I'd never heard of this kind of product before. I did a quick search to see what the other ingredients are and unfortunately for us it has corn as an ingredient. I have a four year old who has both wheat and corn allergies (among other food allergies), and we have had a tough time with crafts and other sensorial type work at preschool, even though her preschool staff works hard to use ingredients that are safe for her. If we could find a similar product that doesn't have corn as an ingredient it would be wonderful!

Posted by: Kath at March 29, 2006 3:46 PM