Every time any kind of holiday or celebration rolls around, I cringe.
I don’t cringe because I don’t want to participate. I don’t cringe because we disagree with some traditions (to each his/her own).
I cringe because my kiddo has a dye allergy. Red #40, to be more specific.
When he was an infant, we gave him Tylenol per doctor recommendation (we don’t use Tylenol anymore for several reasons, but that is another post for another day… maybe). He immediately threw up and I didn’t give it to him again. Around one year old, he had his first glass of cow milk. He instantly got a double ear infection from it (we then realized that he probably had a milk sensitivity and later confirmed it through trial and error). That was his last glass of cow milk and his last ear infection.
After his first dose of antibiotics, he became whiny, irritable, and restless when he was supposed to be sleeping. At first I thought it was the double ear infection and I kept giving him his antibiotics as the doctor had prescribed. With every dose, he grew more irritable, but I didn’t make the connection until he had several doses of the antibiotic and was lying on the floor, kicking, screaming at the top of his lungs, and flailing. This was not our mild mannered kiddo.
I suddenly remembered him throwing up Tylenol as an infant (which contained red dye). I looked at the bottle of antibiotics and it was pink in color. I had trouble getting ahold of the pediatrician on call, so I went with my momma gut and gave him a dose of dye-free Benadryl. He was completely back to normal within 20 minutes. (Ladies, always trust your momma gut. Men, always trust a woman’s intuition with her child.)
Ever since then, we’ve done everything in our power to avoid red dye, but sometimes it happens because kids are too quick. One day at the park, when my child had a few more words to describe his world, he ate a Dorito that another child had dropped. It all happen so fast that there was nothing I could do. Within 10 minutes, he was screaming at the top of his lungs. I struggled to get him in the car seat to go home. I didn’t have any Benadryl with me (way to go, Momma), so I drove home with a screaming child. I finally asked him why he screamed every time he ate something he wasn’t supposed to. He yelled, “My head hurts so bad, Mommy! It hurts so bad!” It was in that moment when I realized he got severe headaches from red dye. I gave him a dose of Benadryl when we got home and he calmed down within 20 minutes again.
Now, you can probably understand why holidays are so tricky for us. Christmas has red candy canes and cookies with red sprinkles. Valentine’s Day has red M&Ms and red candies. Birthday parties have colored frosting. Even Jell-O has red dye in every stinkin’ flavor! Did you know Oreos have red dye? Some store-bought bakery items have it. Some pizza chains put it in their sauce (I’m lookin’ at you Pizza Hut). So, when Easter rolls around, we have similar concerns.
We don’t do the Easter Bunny. (We don’t do Santa, either. Yes, we are total Scrooges. I know, I know. I’m over it.) But I’ve always wanted to dye eggs for Easter. It’s easy to make the connection to new life and it doesn’t seem too secular for us. Plus, it’s an artsy activity and I can’t say no to that. And I remember dyeing eggs with my mom, so it’s a tradition worth passing on, in my opinion.
I’ve wanted to dye eggs with my kiddo for a few years and never found the packs without the red dye, so I sadly passed over the tradition and looked for other ways to celebrate Easter. A Natural Grocers opened up in our area around Christmas time, so we’ve had a lot more options to cater to our allergies and food sensitivities. I was walking through the store a few weeks ago and found this natural, plant-based egg dye:
I may have almost done a cartwheel upon finding it. Almost…
There are three colors and the directions are pretty easy to follow. The dye is made from cabbage, beet, and annatto–all plant-based products. It was very easy to mix different colors as well. We weren’t just stuck with the three color options. It was also fun because we’ve been talking a lot about primary and secondary colors lately, so it gave my kiddo a chance to practice his knowledge of color mixing.
We will definitely be getting the same or similar egg coloring kit in years to come!
I hope you all have a great Easter! We will enjoy celebrating the gift of new life in Jesus with our church and family tomorrow. We might even make some colorful egg salad with our beautiful eggs.
Feel free to share your stories of natural egg dyeing methods in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you if you have some tried and true tricks to share!