Saturday, February 11, 2012
Food Allergies and the Babysitting Co-op
At your initial start-up meeting, it's a good idea to ask if any of the children have food allergies. If any of the co-op kids do have food allergies, each babysitter needs to be aware of the severity of the allergy. Since there should be a medical form for each parent, everyone should be well aware of potential concerns, but if the allergies are very severe, you may need to make sure all parents are trained.
For example, if a child has had a severe allergic reaction in the past (facial sweeling, hoarse voice, wheezing, fainting, etc.), then all babysitters need to be trained to use an EpiPen. This doesn't take long, and you can do this training at each calendaring meeting to keep the instructions fresh in everyone's mind. Allergies should be clearly listed on each child's medical form along with instructions for babysitters to follow in the event the child has an allergic reaction. Click here for printable EpiPen instructions.
Babysitters should be sensitive to food allergies and not serve food that the allergic child can't eat. However, if the child's food restrictions are severe, she's probably used to eating alternative foods and won't mind the substitution of a safe food for a food everyone else is eating. So if you're serving sandwiches and she can't eat wheat bread, give her a bowl of soup or a burrito made from a corn tortilla. Parents with food allergic children shouldn't expect babysitters to stock specialty foods for their child. It's always helpful to pack specialty foods the child likes. That will take a lot of pressure of the babysitter.
With a little awareness and care, the co-op can make sure that kids with food allergies are properly taken care of. This gives parents real peace of mind and is one of the best benefits of a babysitting co-op. The child is always with responsible adults who know the child.