Latest posts by Lyndsay Edwards (see all)
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As allergy parents most of us will know how it feels to use a childcare provider for our allergic children, whether it be a nursery, a childminder or a close friend or relative, letting someone else take care of your little one can feel very daunting in the beginning. Mini me went to one childminder for over two years and we have recently found a new one. I did try using a nursery in 2014 but during an initial two hour induction period they slipped up with his allergies and fed him dairy knowing he was allergic, so I have not used a nursery since. It can be overwhelming and scary to think about leaving your child with someone else, especially if they have additional needs such as food allergies and I have heard of some childcare providers refusing to accept children with food allergies. I think it’s important to spend time searching for the right nursery for your child, every child is unique and a child with food allergies will need extra care and attention during their time in a nursery so it’s important that you find a nursery willing to accommodate your child’s needs. I have put together the following questions I would recommend asking a nursery during the initial viewing. Of course I am not an expert at finding great nursery’s – far from it ! But after our terrible experience I want to help others so hopefully they don’t suffer like we did.
What To Ask A Nursery If Your Child Has Food Allergies…
How long has your nursery been open?
Do all nursery staff receive any training in regards to caring for those with food allergies? And if so how has it helped them care for those with food allergies?
Do you have a ‘nut free zone’ or a ‘no food sharing policy’ in your nursery?
Is there anything you think the parent can do to make it easier for the nursery staff to accommodate a child with food allergies?
Can the nursery staff have blanket cover to administer antihistamines or other allergy medications if a child is having an allergic reaction or do nursery staff always have to contact the parent for permission first?
Does the nursery have antihistamine medicine on the premises at all times or is it up to the parent to provide this?
How do the nursery staff minimise the risk of an allergic reaction during meal times?
Do the children eat at a designated area?
How do nursery staff manage crumbs/leftovers after meal times?
Do nursery staff educate the other (non allergic) children about food allergies?
Does the nursery have a cupboard or dedicated space to store ‘safe’ foods/treats for those with allergies?
How do the nursery staff monitor and minimise the risk of children sharing drinks?
How do nursery staff involve the child so that they do not feel left out during seasonal activities such as Easter & Christmas which may involve foods containing dairy or other allergens?
How do nursery staff minimise the risk on days out?
What do the nursery staff consider to be their biggest challenge when caring for a child with food allergies?
Hopefully these questions will give you an idea of some of the questions you need to be asking a nursery when searching for suitable childcare for your child.
My other tips would be:
- Absolutely ask all of the questions above and more if you have them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and don’t apologise for asking them, an experienced and confident nursery should be happy to answer them.
- If you have the slightest doubt then don’t use that nursery.
- View lots of different nursery’s, even after you feel like you have chosen the right one. Doing this should confirm in your mind that you have made the right choice for you and your child.
- Visit the nursery on a few occasions and at different times during the day before you make your final decision.
- Ask in depth questions about any previous experience when it comes to caring for a child with food allergies.
- Ask if there has ever been an incident where a child was accidentally fed a food by them, which they were knowingly allergic too and if so what policies did they put in place to ensure this didn’t happen again.
- Ask about paints and different craft materials, some chalks and paints contain milk proteins and toddlers do like to put most things in their mouths.
- Don’t get complacent, even after your child has been safely going to a nursery for a few months, re ask some of the questions above and remind them of your requests/concerns.
- Openly talk about your child’s food allergies with the nursery staff on a regular basis.
- Build a rappor with your child’s nursery keyworker.
- Ask which nursery staff usually work on which days and what happens when some are sick.
- Find out the process of staff communicating a child’s needs throughout the nursery so all staff are aware.
Let me know what you think of these questions in the comments section below and please share your experiences in quizzing and/or using nursery’s?
Recently I have received a lot of questions on our Facebook page about the symptoms of cow’s milk protein allergy and I think it would be great if we can share our questions and support each other on this journey. I have created a group on Facebook so we all have somewhere we can discuss and support each other in regards to living with cow’s milk protein allergy. Please take the time to read the group description. It is a closed group so, only members can see and reply to posts.