I always train new babysitters, Pre-K teachers and family on food allergies before they spend time alone with my daughter who has severe food allergies. We review the Allergy Action Plan from our doctor, which outlines what to do when certain symptoms appear (for example, when to use medication or call 911).
Recently I was typing up some tips to share with my daughter’s Pre-K that address the “extra” things I want them to know. I’ll be keeping it handy to walk through with babysitters in the future as well. We’ll have something more comprehensive when she starts Kindergarten next year – but this is a good place to start for my average family member or babysitter. Hope it’s helpful to some of you as well!
Six tips on food allergies for babysitters and caregivers
1. Treat reactions quickly. Refer to the Allergy Action Plan if you see any symptoms. We always take action and treat a reaction – never “wait and watch.” Symptoms can get serious very quickly. Once a reaction turns serious, survival rates are best when epinephrine is given in under 2 minutes. Don’t be afraid to use the epinephrine – it can save a life, but nothing bad can happen if you use it unnecessarily.
2. Food proteins cause allergic reactions. You can’t “kill” food proteins by spraying chemicals on them or using hand sanitizer. They need to be removed (washed away) with soap and water or baby wipes. Think of food proteins as glitter – hand sanitizer will just move the glitter (proteins) around. You need water or a cloth to wash/wipe them away.
3. Cross contamination with unsafe foods can be dangerous. This is when a food is accidentally contaminated with food proteins from other foods when it is prepared, stored or served. These traces of food proteins can cause serious reactions. It is important to always wash hands before preparing food for those with food allergies and to only use clean utensils, dishes and counters.
4. Be inclusive with activities. Activities should not include any food or crafts with foods the child is allergic to. Substitutes should be made so all children can participate.
5. Be inclusive emotionally & verbally. Emphasize actions to keep safe without emphasizing the illness. Talking about food allergies in front of other kids or “too much” can make her feel isolated and left out. Avoid saying “you can’t have that because you’re allergic.” Instead say “I have something special for you” or to the child (not the whole group) “this item has eggs in it, so we’ll give you something special.”
6. Celebrate the whole child. She is more than just her food allergy – she has many great qualities and interests. Please talk with her about her family, love of animals, favorite sports, etc. She would much rather you be interested in these things than asking her to demonstrate her knowledge of food allergies.
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.