Parents of children with allergies may wonder how they can support their child manage allergies while in preschool. Above all, ensure you consult with your child’s pediatrician before your child starts daycare. After that, here are some tips to help you manage your child’s allergies in daycare or preschool.
Talk to your child’s preschool or daycare about their allergies
A good preschool or daycare center will have experience with common allergies children may face, and have a policy in place for how they support them. Ensure that your child’s daycare center is well-versed in first aid and CPR training, and are familiar with food allergies. Two-way communication with your child’s preschool is key. Let them know about your child’s specific allergies, the symptoms, any medication they take, and what they need. Your child’s teachers should ensure that your child’s needs are respected, and will monitor your child and update you regularly on what they do to accommodate your child’s allergy.
Talk to your child about their allergies
Even preschoolers can be empowered to understand their food allergy. Before starting daycare or preschool, begin discussing basic food allergy concepts with your child. For example, if your child is allergic to milk, explain to them that milk can make them feel very sick. Teach them to identify milk in a carton, a glass, or other foods that use milk, such as ice cream. If your child has experienced this allergy already, ask them to tell you how it felt. Otherwise, you can tell them how they might feel if they accidentally have some milk. By learning how to talk about their allergy, your child will be better empowered to talk to their daycare teacher about it as well.
Get your child involved
Aside from talking to your child about their allergy, you can also help include them in allergy management and teach them important skills they can use when they get older. For example, model allergy management behavior such as reading ingredient labels and asking if certain foods have the specific allergen in them. Let your child help you grocery shop and select ingredients that are safe for them to consume. If your child needs to bring medication with them, make it an obvious part of your daily routine, and encourage them to verify that they have their medication.
Read books about allergies
There are many children’s books that deal with managing allergies, and these can be ideal resources to help your child navigate their daycare life. For example, Daniel Has an Allergy, based on the popular Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood series, shows Daniel learning how to manage his allergy. Taking Food Allergies to School shares one child’s experience with managing his food allergy in school, in an easy-to-understand way.