It’s always difficult handing over your little ones to a childminder or a creche but even moreso when you are worried that they might get the wrong food and become very ill. Here’s some tips to make it easier.
- Ensure your childminder or crèche are aware of your child’s allergy or allergies – have a discussion with your childminder or if in a creche find out what the policy is for dealing with allergies, will food be kept separate, have they dealt with allergies before etc. Explain to them what will happen if your child gets the allergen, this can be important so they understand how serious it is and also so they will be prepared and know what’s happening if your child does have a reaction.
- Provide them with a chart of what to do in an emergency.
- Train the childminder – If your child has an Epipen or inhaler they will need to be left with the child and the minder will need to know what to do. Also if a child is on non-allergenic formula, the method for making up the bottles will need to be explained and shown to the minder.
- Provide a list of prohibited foods. Make an easy to read list that can be stuck up in the kitchen and the room they will be mainly in also if necessary.
- Provide a safe list of foods. -This is especially important for snacks and lunches as it can be difficult to think of what to give for these if you are new to dealing with allergies.Sample menus might also be helpful.
- If you are unsure, you can bring all your child’s own food to the crèche or childminder and label it carefully. Ensure that they will be kept separate and there will be no opportunity for cross contamination to occur.
- Other children’s food can be a threat – it is helpful to broach this with a childminder or creche as quite often children will share food or grab someone else’s. The child’s carer will have to take steps to ensure this can’t happen, and if food or drink is spilled it needs to be cleaned up immediately.
- Discuss how to keep your child allergy safe during outings, parties, crafts which may use ingredients he or she is allergic to etc.
- Discuss what steps they take so your child won’t feel excluded – this is especially important as your child gets older and becomes aware that they are having different foods etc. Offering like for like in a situation where the other children are having a treat, or baking something everyone in the room can have if it’s baking day are great ways of including allergic children.
- Meet regularly with childminder or crèche staff to discuss any changes etc., don’t be afraid to speak to them if you are worried about anything.
After speaking at the Allergy & Free From Expo in Cork a few weeks ago I decided to do a more official tips series. I have written many tips since I started the blog but not really in any kind of organised fashion. Here’s the first in a series of tips I hope to publish at least once a month. I would love to hear from you if you’d like to read tips about any particular aspect in particular of dealing with children with food allergies. Leave me a comment below.