By Allie Bahn
For parents of children with food allergies, trusting anyone to safely care for your child can be nerve-racking. However, there are ways to educate others — including family members, babysitters or other parents — to safely care for your food-allergic child.
If you have extended family nearby, they are usually a comfortable starting place for trusting others to care for your child. If family is not close by, choose a close friend or someone you already trust.
Anyone that you entrust your child to should be able to understand your child’s Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan and what to look for in identifying symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. Leave specific instructions and go over them with your sitter before leaving your child in their care.
Make sure that your sitter is trained in CPR and knows the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector if there’s an accidental exposure to a food allergen.
It is also important to set clear expectations for food and planning around mealtimes. Decide ahead if your child is allowed to eat while you are gone and pick out certain safe snacks they can have while you are out. Be clear with the babysitter that no food that hasn’t been pre-approved by you is allowed to be consumed.
Once your child is old enough to start having playdates with friends, there are a few steps to take in order to ensure a fun and safe afternoon. Show the parents your child’s action plan, how to use an epinephrine auto-injector and explain the signs and symptoms of a reaction.
Pack a safe snack for your child and the same snack for the friend to eat together during their playdate. Make it clear that no other snacks are allowed and that anything else must be pre-approved.