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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Helping your child live with coeliac disease

Explaining coeliac disease to your child

This illustrated ebook about a boy with coeliac disease can help you explain coeliac disease to your tamaiti (child).

Getting the whole family involved

It's important to explain coeliac disease to the whole family – including sisters and brothers. You might like to go through your cupboards and label all gluten-free products with a smiley face sticker and products that are not gluten-free with a warning sticker to make sure everyone gets the message.

Cooking for the whole family

When cooking for the family, you can make many dishes gluten-free simply by changing certain ingredients (such as stock cubes and sauces). It's important to take sensible steps to prevent contamination with gluten-containing foods in the kitchen. This especially applies to toasters. Tamariki (children) with coeliac disease should have their own toaster.

If you are ever unsure about what food is gluten-free, Coeliac New Zealand has a range of resources – these can help you identify gluten-free products.

Tamariki Children can adapt very quickly to a new diet. They may have been feeling sick for some time so they often feel better on their new diet.

Going for regular check-ups

It is important for your tamaiti child to have regular check-ups with their dietitian and family doctor. This is to make sure that they recover as expected. Your doctor will keep an eye on your child's growth. They may also do a blood test to make sure the coeliac antibody levels have returned to normal. It may take time (sometimes over a year) for the antibody levels to return to normal. Checking the antibody level can be helpful to make sure that your tamaiti is sticking to their gluten-free diet.

People with a confirmed coeliac disease diagnosis can have free flu vaccinations. Ask your family doctor for more information.

Talking to your child's school

Make sure your child's school or daycare know your tamaiti has coeliac disease. Tamariki often share lunch boxes. Also, some play material (such as Play-Doh) contains gluten.

Getting help for your child with coeliac disease

Consider becoming a member of Coeliac New Zealand for support and advice.

Having a tamaiti with coeliac disease can be a stressful life-changing event. But by taking it one step at a time and taking advantage of the support available, you should start to get the hang of things within a few months.

Read Gluten-free diet for coeliac disease – especially if your tamaiti has just been diagnosed.

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed February 2022.

Page reference: 37436

Review key: HICDC-16032