Finding the Right Allergy Friendly Nursery
Sending your little one to nursery for the first time is a big moment for you and your child. After having them in your little bubble where you know every aspect of their day, it can be a mixture of relief and worry leaving them to experience new surroundings and care. Naturally, lots of questions will rush through your mind. Will they be happy? Are they going to make friends? Will they sleep at nap time?
Things are even more challenging when your child has a food allergy as there are other things to consider. Does your nursery have food allergy policies to protect your child? Is the food allergen allowed in the nursery? Are all staff members trained to respond if your child has a reaction? What will they feed your child and other children?
With 1 in 12 children in the UK having a food allergy, there are a lot of parents trying to navigate how to find the safest nursery. Preparation and asking questions for this journey are essential.
Know if your child has a food allergy or food intolerance
A food allergy is when your body has an immune system response to a particular food. When the body is exposed to the allergen for a second time, IgE antibodies react with the food causing histamines to be released, which can lead to these symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhoea,
- Itchy mouth or a swollen tongue
- Hives, pail, flushed or itchy skin
- Change in pulse, dizziness or fainting
- Constriction of the airway or throat leading to trouble breathing
A food intolerance often leads to a delayed reaction which may include diarrhoea and stomach pains which are uncomfortable but not life-threatening.
Approximately 90% of all food allergies are caused by eight foods: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. There are 14 common food allergens.
Have a food allergy treatment plan
If your child has been diagnosed with food allergies, ensure you have a clear treatment plan from your doctor. You can then add the plan to an Allergy Action Plan such as this one on the BSACI website.
The one-page form will have essential information about your child including a photo, food allergies, emergency contact information along with what reactions to look for and how to treat them. Make four copies: one kept in your home, in your handbag, and two for the nursery. Ensure that two autoinjectors are in a special bag with the care plan. Having a spare autoinjector in case the first one fails. Check out the teal app for tips, recipes and podcasts on food allergies.
Finding the right nursery
Along with all the logistical and economical factors, you will need to find one who can show YOU their system for handling food allergies. If they don’t have a system – move on. The nursery will be able to show you the food preparation area, what allergens they do or do not use, where the Allery Care Plans are, staff training and accommodations they can make for your child. Ask if all staff are trained in recognising a food allergy reaction and in giving auto-injectors. Some nurseries also provide exceptional paediatric first aid training, so look out for a nursery near you that holds the Millie’s Mark accreditation.
A Final Thought…
Finding the right nursery will ensure you that you are comfortable dropping off your little one, and they will be safe and enjoy all the new experiences that nursery can offer. It is a good idea to keep a positive relationship and keep regular communication with the nursery. Always check the care plan and expiry of the auto-injector at regular intervals.
Your nursery may also be happy to have back up snacks and meals that you provide. Tom Pom Organic creates dairy and nut-free purees and meals that are high in nutrients and frozen into handy rings. The purees can be enjoyed frozen as a teether and all the rings defrost quickly and evenly. Check out https://www.tompomorganic.com and join the community @tompomorganic.