As a childminder, providing food is a key element of the service I provide to the children as well as ensuring that the meals are healthy and nutritious.
Many children can be Fussy Eaters when it comes to mealtimes and that can be difficult in itself. When we also have a child with food allergies that adds another element of risk and challenge in the menu selection that we offer.
The most common allergies in children include peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish (crab, lobster, crayfish and shrimp), soy, tree nuts (for example, pecans, cashews and walnuts) and wheat.
The most severe reactions are usually caused by peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. All allergies that can last a lifetime, but many children also outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, soy and wheat.
If you are a parent with a child that has a food allergy you will be aware of the possibility that your child could go into anaphylaxis shock in reaction to a food product they cannot tolerate, causing a potentially life-threatening response that impairs breathing, causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and send their body into shock.
Most children with food allergies are prescribed epinephrine (adrenaline), administered with an auto-injector as soon as symptoms develop, so having an adequate supply of this medication is always requested for any child we care for at Auntie Sarah’s.
It’s great that there is a wide range of products that cater for people who have allergies and equally, this helps to give the peace of mind that ingredients have been carefully selected and prepared.
The meals provided at Auntie Sarah’s are mostly prepared with fresh ingredients, which helps to ensure they are healthy and that we have control over what is provided. For the children in our care who do have allergies, these are the steps we take to support them:
- Maintaining an up-to-date and accurate list of all the children we look after that have an allergy and what they are allergic to.
- Carefully checking food packaging for ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction.
- Offering alternative menus to meet their individual needs such as using dairy free milk and butter; avoiding foods that contain eggs, nuts, soya, shellfish, wheat or anything else that they may be allergic to.
- When preparing food for our children with allergies we ensure that we have separate preparation areas and do not mix up any cutlery or crockery that may get contaminated with any foods they cannot consume.
- Informing and training all team members in dealing with children who have allergies and looking out for any changes in their physical state, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, a rash, upset stomach or vomiting etc.
- Ensuring that we have enough medication should they suffer a reaction and following the relevant safety or emergency procedures that we in place should the situation escalate.
Your child’s safety and care is of paramount importance to us at Auntie Sarah’s and we are focused on taking every step necessary to ensure all of the children we look after are catered for appropriately.
In part two of this blog article, we will be discussing how we manage hay fever, asthma and eczema which are other common allergies in young children.