There are many things the caregivers of food allergic kids need to know, including the unexpected places they may encounter allergens, such as in art and craft materials.

Babysitters, older siblings, teachers, and grandparents – those caregivers who do many different activities with our children – need to be informed that household and store-bought activity materials can trigger reactions in food allergic kids.

Suspect Supplies

Children’s play kitchens, for instance, may be stocked with empty egg and milk cartons, baby food jars, and empty cereal boxes that could carry allergens. Finger paints might contain allergens of wheat, milk, corn, or oats. Other craft materials that may trigger allergy reactions are:

  • Paper mache: often contains wheat
  • Craft paste: may contain wheat
  • Play-Doh: contains wheat
  • Macaroni (for macaroni art): may contain wheat, and egg
  • Crayons, Crayola Wonder: contains soy
  • Tempera paints: may contain egg
  • Dustless chalk: contains casein, a milk product
  • Ooblick (slime): may contain corn

This list is not exhaustive, but it makes the point that ingredients in a food-allergic child’s art and craft materials need to be checked for offending allergens by each of the child’s caregivers.

Supply Substitutes

There are, naturally, commercial alternatives to allergen-containing craft supplies. Moon Sand, or Mood Dough, for example, are wheat free replacements for Play-Doh. Rice, quinoa, or corn macaroni can substitute for the wheat and egg variety, and several brands of allergen-free glues and paints are available for kids.

For do-it-yourselfers who have time, some craft materials can be made at home. Here is a playdough recipe using rice flour and other basic kitchen supplies.

Rice Playdough

You will need:

  • 1 1/4 cups rice flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • food coloring and sparkles (optional)


  1. In a large pot, mix together the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add the water and oil. (For colored dough, add a few drops of food coloring to the water.)
  2. Stirring continuously, cook on medium heat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Place the dough on a clean surface. When cool enough to touch knead it lightly, then store in an airtight container.

Add sparkles to the dough, if desired, during the kneading process.

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