Finding out your child has an allergy can be overwhelming, especially if they are regularly in the care of others. In order to best protect them, it’s important to make sure their care providers completely understand the nature of their allergy and what signs to look for in case of an allergic reaction, and to have an emergency plan in place for how your child’s care provider should respond if your little one has a reaction while in their care.
Many licensed childcare providers are trained to respond to allergic reactions, and will ask you for information about a child’s allergy status, but home daycares or childcare centers associated with religious institutions may have less experience dealing with allergies. If Baby does have a food allergy, it’s a good idea to make sure that your childcare provider is armed with the following information:
- Description of allergy: Speak with your child’s care provider immediately about any new or existing allergies, and submit a statement from their doctor detailing the nature of the allergy. The statement should include information about what they are allergic to, proper steps that need to be taken to avoid accidental contact with the allergen, possible substitutions for your child during meals if there is an allergy, and a detailed description of what a reaction may look like if they are exposed to an allergen.
- Food label warnings: In the United States, all FDA-regulated manufactured foods are required by law to list any major food allergens on the product label. This includes allergens like milk, wheat, eggs, nuts, soy, or fish. It’s also a smart idea to research what alternate words these allergens may be listed under, as the ingredient lists may not always be so clear. The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has information about reading labels carefully to identify unexpected sources of allergens. A downloadable copy of that form can be found online.
- Response plan: If your child happens to be exposed to an allergen, it’s crucial for their provider to be prepared to treat the situation. If your child needs a dose of epinephrine or antihistamine to treat a reaction, be sure their provider has these items on-hand and properly stored somewhere easy to reach. Mild symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching, hives, or discomfort. However, should a child display severe symptoms, emergency personnel should be contacted. To be sure your child receives proper care, it’s generally best to play it safe if accidental contact is made with an allergen, as it may be determined that further medical assistance is needed, and it may be helpful to make sure your child’s care provider is on the same page about this.
- “Resources for Parents.” foodallergy. Food Allergy Research & Education, 2016. Web.