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Nursery - I am upset :(

(23 Posts)
harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 09:56:54

Hello everyone,

Haven't posted here for a wee while.

Dd is 3 and allergic to milk, eggs and nuts. She started pre school nursery last week. They said that they would cater for her by mainly giving her a fruit snack and water which we were happy with - dd is only in nursery 9-11.30am so fruit mid morning is fine and she loves fruit.

We have now started to have issues. One teacher made a comment on Friday "we really need to find out what dd can have as we haven't been told" - they have been told, multiple times.It's on dd's paperwork, we met with the deputy head, and we discussed it with the teachers in the nursery on dd's first day.

I'm not sure if it is this one teacher who just can't understand - the other ones seem clear but they haven't said anything so I couldn't be confident.

Yesterday the same teacher came to me when I dropped dd off and said that she was doing a nursery shop and could they buy dd anything. She said that she would be able to buy some gluten free biscuits for her - I explained that dd can have gluten, and that her allergies were milk, egg and nuts. She has mentioned gluten free before too.

This morning when I went in the same teacher had gone to buy dd soya milk. I appreciate the effort she made, but this has made me so anxious. Dd has been told only to drink water at nursery and I think that this will mix her up and potentially lead to mistakes being made as the other children have milk at snack time - some children have water though so that's why we are happy with dd having water. The same teacher again said she had seen biscuits in the free from section. I asked her what kind and she said gluten free. Again I said, dd is fine with gluten, it's milk eggs and nuts and not to buy them.

I understand that the teachers are just trying to include dd but they seem so clueless. They have had children with allergies before including a relative of ours who has a nut allergy, so I don't understand how they can lack insight into this.

When I met with the deputy head she seemed so aware and proposed all the right things - a picture off dd on the wall, a list of her allergies and what she should and should not be given, signs of allergi reaction, treatment to be given etc.

I now want to provide my own snacks for dd and I don't want her to have soya milk when she is there either, just water.

Do you think I am being over the top with this. I was crying when I left dd in nursery this morning as I am so anxious for her. Being pregnant doesn't help!

JustBecauseICan Tue 03-Sep-13 09:59:55

Sounds like a mixup to me. Messages clearly haven't filtered through as to what she can and can't have. I'd go and see the person you did the paperwork with and clarify that the nursery workers and shoppers are up to speed because it sounds like they aren't.

harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 10:04:50

All the teachers were present when we did the paperwork - it's a small nursery with only 3 staff. I really don't think it is a mix up, I just think that this teacher has no concept of allergies which is strange when the school has 4 children with allergies, some with epipens, including dd.

I don't want to upset anyone - dd has to stay in this nursery for 2 years and then go to he school next door.

Do any parents with allergic children always provide their food at nursery/school?

I don't want to seem like a neurotic mother and I think they are starting to think that. I asked to check the milk that the teacher had bought this morning and I think they thought I was crazy. I just couldn't trust that it was ok when she was getting so mixed up with other things. She seems to think that gluten free means allergen free!

AFishWithoutABicycle Tue 03-Sep-13 10:06:25

It's so frustrating when you intrust your child to people and then they seem incompetent.
I asked that my DD did not have jelly when she was 11 months because of food colourings etc. They the accidentally let the cat out of the bag by telling me how much she liked it then looked really embarrassed and said something about how she's only had a little bit.
That really annoyed me and it was not even an allergy just a preference. You need to alert the manager to this member of staff who's letting the side down and making you feel anxious.

JustBecauseICan Tue 03-Sep-13 10:09:08

Well that makes it worse then IMO. I'd ask for a meeting and be quite cross at their incompetence. If they are incapable of working out that eggs, milk and nuts isn't flour, I'd be concerned about their ability to look after my child tbh. In this day and age, with all the allergy training (one would hope) childcare professionals are getting, there is no excuse.

malovitt Tue 03-Sep-13 10:24:51

A similar situation occurred to a friend at her daughter's nursery. She had a few plain white t shirts printed with:
No egg
No milk
No nuts
Only water to drink.

which her daughter wore loosely over her clothes like an apron so the words could be clearly read.

She bought an iron on transfer pack at WH Smiths for about a fiver and did them herself.

A bit drastic maybe, but it has worked.

harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 12:08:23

Dh called the head teacher - I couldn't have done it i was so emotional this morning hmm

He raised concern about staff awareness, while at the same time saying that he recognised that they were trying to include her at nursery and not exclude her.

A meeting has been arranged for tomorrow morning so hopefully we will resolve the situation. I just want her to have water and fruit so I don't see why this is an issue.

Thanks for your responses.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Sep-13 12:15:53

Does the teacher realise that 'no milk' means 'no dairy', including things like biscuits? It's possible that she thinks no milk just means no milk and couldn't figure out why you might be worried about biscuits so picked up on gluten from the free from biscuits?

Or is she getting your DD muddled up with another child?

Either way, I think only fruit and water is a good way forward as you can't trust them on other foods.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 03-Sep-13 12:19:13

Offer to provide whatever food they deem necessary. Honestly, it'll make the process easier.

What I mean is, they probably have a part of the week where everyone sits down with a biscuit and a book. If your DD can't have anything, she's left out or will get upset. They think that by buying her something to help her fit in, they are helping. If they aren't grasping her allergies, that's just dangerous. So if you provide the biscuits, she can be involved without any risk = win/win.

I would imagine that it is this type of thing that is the problem. When I did nursery work, I got the parents of children with allergies to suggest a few products that could be ordered for their children - XX brand milk-free cookies or whatever, so we could add them to the shop.

A lot of parents provided all food for their child, too. Yoghurts, snacks, everything. Mainly for peace of mind, rather than competence issues, but it's not uncommon.

greenbananas Tue 03-Sep-13 15:46:31

I'm not surprised you're upset. I would be too. Hope the meeting goes well tomorrow.

Agree about your DD only drinking water at nursery - so much safer! Soya milk looks like milk and it's bound to get confusing for all concerned, including your DD.

I used to provide all food for DS at preschool. Sounds like you will never be able to trust the staff at your DD's nursery to buy appropriate food for her, however well your meeting goes tomorrow. Could you send packets of safe biscuits, breadsticks etc. so that she can be included a bit more in snack times?

Are the staff at your DD's nursery checking things like craft materials and junk modelling boxes for traces of nuts and milk. It does sound like the one teacher in particular really does not understand your issues at the moment sad

Green18 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:01:53

Hi. I completely understand. My 9 yr old is allergic to nuts(found out in recep class at school) People who have no experience often don't understand. This teacher sounds incompetent to me. It should be within her responsibility to make herself aware, its a growing issue. Have another meeting with ALL staff and ask them to put up a laminated photo of your child with a list of all allergies in the food prep area and for her to have maybe a different coloured plate to the others to avoid mistakes. Its like playing russian roulette with your child's health, i know. Th egood news is that schools seem much better equipped and are used to it. My daughter has a packed lunch. Prob solved. Keep going, i have felt so upset at times when dealing with other's ignorance but it will get better. My daughter is old enough now to realise what foods could be dangerous and just says no thanks if in doubt. I giver her teacher nut free treats to give to my daughter if she has to miss out on birthday chocs etc from other kids in class.Good luck. You are doing everything you should be x

harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 18:38:06

Thanks again everyone.

Greenbananas it is a nut free school and nursery but I will raise the issue of crafts tomorrow too in case they use egg or cereal boxes for makikg things. They have had children with milk, egg and nut allergies before. They claim that one wee boy has a milk allergy who is in dd's class and that he has fruit and crackers so why the hell is it such an issue with dd?! hmm

When I met with the depute head and my dd's group teacher I was actually really reassured by what they asked and what they suggested - for example they told me that her picture and allergies would be on the wall along with her treatment if she had a reaction. They also asked for two epipens and piriton, and booked a refresher class for the epipen training even though staff already had it - I was relieved that they seemed to have good procedures in place for children with allergies. But it seems that although management within the school are clear about procedures, this isn't filtered down to staff.

Our plan tomorrow is to suggest that they provide fruit and water and nothing else, with the expectation that if they are having a special snack like a biscuit or sandwich we will be told in advance and provide it for her. It will be made clear to them that under no circumstances are they to try and provide anything else. And no soya milk! We understand that they are trying to be helpful but it's too dangerous if some staff members are so bloody clueless.

To be honest I would prefer just to give her a snack in a box but dh wants her to feel included if this can be done safely.

Does this sound fair enough?

harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 18:41:26

Noble - I had thought of that actually as they suggested baking with dd on day 2. I told them that her milk allergy meant that she could not have margarine, butter etc too so no baking unless I provide ingredients.

I have agreed to provide ingredients and a couple of recipes in future.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Tue 03-Sep-13 18:54:24

You are not over reacting.

She doesn't have to stay in that nursery. I would take her out.

They are clearly incompetent - they talk the talk... but that's it. I wouldn't be able to trust them after this.

DD might know to only eat fruit & drink water while she is there, but she's too young to be able to go against an adult telling her that x is OK and to be a 'Good Girl' and drink/eat it (whatever 'it' might be).

I'd worry about school entry when it's time, for now just keep her safe.

ggirl Tue 03-Sep-13 18:54:33

Sounds like this nursery worker is completely clueless which is scary , I agree with poster saying take the decision making out of their hands for the time being.
It's so hard when allergic children are so young...it does get a lot easier , ds is nearly 11 now and quite reliable about what he can and cannot eat.

probablyhadenough Tue 03-Sep-13 19:07:01

It does sound like one nursery worker just does not understand at all - as you say she seems to think gluten free= allergen free. I have experienced similar in a hotel where on 2 separate visits I was reassured (with some pride) that they had bought in some special gluten free sausages for dd. Despite exhaustive conversations re her allergies to milk, nuts, sesame and mustard. Gluten, however, being absolutely fine.

I am sometimes guilty of expecting other people to understand allergies, when few do really unless they have to live with them. I would try and make your point clearly and calmly when you see the head (in my experience fear leads to a slightly hysterical tone and then you are classified as bonkers!) and then take a view on whether your gut instinct says she is safe.

And as others have said, this is an impossible age for allergies. I lived in permanent fear - things are easier now.

Good luck

harverina Tue 03-Sep-13 20:38:51

Chipping that was my gut reaction this morning "she is not going back" but we are in Scotland and the options available to us are limited. The school and nursery are within walking distance. We are never going to be able to create a risk free environment, I know that. But dd hasn't had a reaction for almost 2 years and I do not want her to start reacting now due to incompetence.

We will see how tomorrows meeting goes. If I am not reassured, she will be getting sent with her own snacks, which she will be happy with. If there were issues with this I would remove her from the school. I am not willing to wait for a reaction to happen to take action.

Dd is still very young but we have started to teach her about her allergies and she knows that she cannot eat milk, eggs and nuts. She usually refuses food from anyone else and listens when I tell her what she can and cannot eat - however, a teacher telling her something is safe when it is not is a big risk that I am not willing to take - dh is coming with me tomorrow too so between us we will be very clear that nursery can provide fruit and water and we will provide all other snacks.

Dh spoke with the head teacher this morning (it's actually the primary school head, the nursery is part of the school with no desperate management structure) and she knew who dd was, was aware of her allergies etc - she spoke about not allowing any birthday cakes in the school/nursery and dh generally felt that she was fairly knowledgable. But it's the staff who will be with dd day to day who we need to be confident about.

I will report back tomorrow - hopefully I won't cry, my hormones are all over the place (31 weeks pregnant!) which doesn't help!

Thanks again everyone.

harverina Sun 08-Sep-13 22:54:56

Hi just to update...

Had a meeting with the head teacher and dd's group teacher and we have agreed:

- only fruit/veg and water. No soya milk.
- whoever is on snack duty will stand nearby to try to avoid cross contamination...so for example on case there are milk spillages.
- dd's snack will be served to her on a plate of her own as opposed to her sharing with others (there is a big platter where the kids help themselves)
- the children will be asked to wash their hands before and after snack time to try to avoid cross contamination.

I feel better about things now. The teacher I told you about tried to minimise it all by saying I must have misunderstood her and that she was aware of dd's allergies however I made it clear to the head teacher why I had been so concerned and exactly what she said so that they knew I was not just being a neurotic mother.

Thanks again everyone.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Mon 09-Sep-13 00:15:13

Hi Haverina

I hope it all works out OK for you & DD.

Let us know how it goes.

freefrommum Mon 09-Sep-13 08:57:30

That all sounds good harverina. Let's hope all the staff stick to the plan now and understand how important it is.

harverina Mon 09-Sep-13 11:13:04

Thanks, I hope this is a turning point too.

They have another child who can't eat dairy. I'm not sure if he is intolerant or allergic but, regardless. I don't see why this teacher had to make such a fuss over dd and what to buy when he is in a similar position.

Thanks for all the support grin

babybarrister Colombia Mon 09-Sep-13 13:39:54

Anaphylaxis Campaign has lots of info re nurseries on their website - good luck!

harverina Mon 09-Sep-13 17:30:31

Thanks bb - I will have a look. I am pregnant at the moment an about tearful so I have been avoiding the website as it makes me cry- pathetic I know!hmm

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