Allergies & childcare
Going to a nursery or child minder can be an anxious time for you and your child with lots of things to think about so that everything goes smoothly. Add in a food allergy and it’s easy to see how daunting it can all become! The good news is, with the right planning it doesn’t have to be. Below are some useful tips to help make the new start easier for everyone.
Before they go
It might be a good idea for you to meet up with the owner of the nursery or the child minder to tell them about your child’s allergy. This allows you and them to ask any questions you might have. You may want to ask:
- Are the staff/child minders trained in dealing with allergies (or using adrenaline if needed)?
- Who is in charge of what your child will be eating and can changes be made to this if needed?
- Can you provide your child with foods from home? Do other children bring in foods from home (which might contain allergens)?
- Do the children handle food as part of play or learning? If so, how can this be avoided?
- If your child needs to go to hospital do they have a procedure and what is it?
You also may want to provide them with some information about your child and their allergy in advance so that they can prepare. This could include:
- A photo of your child so that it can be put with their medical records, it will help staff be able to put a face to the name in any notes.
- Details of what symptoms they might get, and instructions on how to deal with these, including what medication should be given (if needed).
- Up to date contact information in case of an emergency.
When they go
You should be reassured that nearly all nurseries and child minders will have seen other children with allergies before, and they will know what to do.
It may help to take with you a list of foods/drinks they can and can’t eat, and hand this to the child minder or kitchen staff so that they can be sure they know what to avoid. If they have a weekly meal plan you may be able to look through it and see if any can be easily adapted. If not it may be easier for you to bring in food from home, if this is allowed.
If food can be brought in from home then it is important to keep this varied and interesting so that they don’t feel tempted to share others’ different foods!
Staying in touch
It is worth keeping in touch regularly with the main leader/ child minder so that they can let you know about any contact with an allergen. and you can let them know about any medication or changes in symptoms. With good planning there is no reason for a food allergy to prevent your child from enjoying everything there is to experience in this exciting new stage of their lives!