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dairy-free childminder?

(15 Posts)
greenbananas Wed 14-Sep-11 23:01:15

I've posted this in AIBU and have got a really interesting range of responses.

I know that people deal with allergies differently, and that excluding all DS's allergens from my home/setting might seem a bit over the top, but I am basically trying to avoid having to call an ambulance (for my DS or any other child!) when I have a house full of children who all need looking after...

What do you 'allergy parents' think?

babybarrister Thu 15-Sep-11 06:13:28

are you in a city? I think you will get a lot of business TBH and could charge more! go girl .....!!!

freefrommum Thu 15-Sep-11 10:15:32

Personally, while I totally understand your reasons, it's not something I agree with. My DS is allergic to milk, wheat, eggs and nuts and while I might in the early days have thought 'wow, a dairy-free childminder that's great, I won't have to worry' looking back now I think it would've been the wrong thing to do. He's been with a childminder since he was one and yes, it was very scary leaving him initially but it was fantastic preparation for nursery and then school. My childminder is fantastic and really careful to avoid any reactions but always goes out of her way to make sure my DS is included in everything the other kids do. My motto is 'life isn't freefrom' and therefore we have to develop ways to manage the risks and deal with reactions when they do occur rather than trying to create a falsely secure environment through total exclusion. I'm pretty sure there aren't any dairy-free nurseries or schools (in fact in Wales all reception kids get given free milk every day!) so allergic children need to get used to the fact that milk is often present in many places and that kids are often covered in the stuff otherwise I think when they start nursery/school it could be pretty disastrous.

eskimomama Thu 15-Sep-11 16:51:44

I have just flicked through your AIBU thread but I quite agree with freefrommum above. My DD is allergic to dairy too, but I would be happy to leave her with a childminder who offers dairy products to the other children BUT seems super aware of risks - ie keeps an eye on what she eats.

You wouldn't believe the number of childminders I've interviewed who had no idea of what dairy's in... I was in my paranoid days back then and quite frankly shocked!
Some of them refused to look after DD because they said "they couldn't possibly look at everything she would put in her mouth" (as in biscuit left by another kid etc.) - so reassuring about random choking hazards in the house isn't it!!!

But tbh dairy is ok - it's unlikely your DC will be affected if a baby vomits formula or another one eats yoghurt on his highchair, as long as you are watching them.

There are other allergic risks on the other hand which are worth eliminating completely indeed - nuts especially, and I don't see why any parents would have to say anything against that. I can understand the non dairy allergic families wanting their kids to have calcium during the day, but they can totally live without nuts/eggs/etc. - less common food than milk...
Wheat I'm not too sure though... its case by case...

Or the other solution - you cater for allergic kids only - but that might make your life really complicated as those bloody allergies are sometimes opposed to each other ;) grin

eskimomama Thu 15-Sep-11 18:23:51

(ps - how I wish you were living near me - I'd hire you straight away!) smile good luck with the whole business!

lukewarmmama Fri 16-Sep-11 20:24:38

What freefrommum said. Sorry, but it's good to try to get used to living in the wider world (says she who is still avoiding the foreign holiday issue...).

ChocaMum Fri 16-Sep-11 23:40:32

Wow it's very interesting to see other people's responses, especially the number of people that worry about a varied diet, do they think all our children are deficient in nutrients?!

I have done the same in excluding all allergens from our home because of DD being touch sensitive and also her age means she still outs everything in her mouth, so if something was spilt or crumbs lying around then I'd worry that she could react to it unless I was cleaning 24 7. I know everyone deals with things differently but after DD having 3 anaphylactic reactions at home it seemed the only way, and so far things hva been a lot calmer.

I really don't see the issue in having a allergy free home. Most of the toddlers I know have been having milk first thing in the morning and last thing before bed since they were about one so I don't think it would be difficult to be milk free. And cheese and yoghurts etc for however long they are with you isn't really that big of a deal IMO.

Although I see the point about not being able to keep our dc's in a 'free from' work forever, I do think that when you have very young dc's it is easier to have the home environment as safe as possible. I would definitely hire you!

Good luck, I hope it works out well for you.

greenbananas Thu 22-Sep-11 23:50:21

Thank you so much for your responses. I'm really sorry that I have been offline for nearly a week and not got back to you sooner, but I do appreciate your thoughts.

I find it ever so interesting that although many mums on AIBU said they wouldn't use me as a childminder (mostly because of calcium/'restrictive diet'/emergency procedures etc.), nobody really questioned the wisdom of excluding my DS's allergens from our home. You 'allergy mums' have given me a completely different perspective!

freefrommum, I agree completely that we can't keep our children in a 'freefrom' environment forever. We have to give them the skills to cope with managing risk in the real world sad You're right about the dangers of creating a 'falsely secure environment' and I do think it's true that nut-free schools make both children and staff less vigilant than they should be. My situation is slightly different from yours because I am thinking about home educating DS (I have always loved the idea of home education within a peer group of other home educated children, so this is not just because of his allergies, but I do confess that his allergies are definitely a contributing factor).

DS (aged 3) is very, very aware of the dangers when we are out and about (e.g. steps carefully past discarded ice-cream wrappers/chocolate stains on the pavement; always asks me or DH about the ingredients of any food he is offered; carefully sorts play food into piles of things he can eat and can't eat). I am amazed by the maturity he shows at only just 3 years old, and am humbled by how calm he is about the whole thing. My feeling is that when DS is older and has a house/flat of his own, he will probably exclude all of his allergens from his home so that he can enjoy some peace of mind. I want to give him the 'freedom of his own home' while he is still a child... but I do recognise that we all manage these things differently!!!

Eskimomama, thank you so much for your posts, especially the second one smile It's true that so many people (including childminders and nursery staff) have no idea about the range of foods that contain dairy! I'm a bit taken aback by the childminder who said she couldn't always be monitoring what children put in their mouths shock Most of us deal with this issue by making the environment safe (e.g. putting marbles and other small pieces out of reach) but we do still watch the children!!!

Chocamum - bless you!! - you mentioned "^the number of people that worry about a varied diet, do they think all our children are deficient in nutrients?!^" Oh yes, I do agree!!! Those of us with allergic children have all got pretty good at balancing their diets! I get so incredibly fed up with all the lovely, well-meaning health professionals, family and friends who think it is impossible for a toddler to get enough calcium without dairy (but I have learned to smile and nod at them all while quietly feeding my son broccoli and spinach instead smile)

Anyway, I have decided to forge ahead with my childminding plans. Most of the parents I have met so far are completely happy to go along with my food restrictions. I'm fairly confident that I will get enough business to keep me afloat [crossed fingers emotion!] - thank you again to those who have wished me luck smile

garliclover Fri 23-Sep-11 14:47:04

You're not based anywhere near Oxford, are you? smile. I broadly agree with freefrommum, but on the other hand it would make my life SO much easier if my DS's childminder had your ethos.

freefrommum Fri 23-Sep-11 15:46:22

Good luck greenbananas I really hope it works out for you. I completely agree that we all have different ways of dealing with our kids allergies and I certainly wouldn't judge anyone for doing what they feel is best for their child just because it happens to be different from my way of doing things. And I admire any mum brave enough to go into childminding other people's children! Let us know how you get on.

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 20:58:13

Well, I am now fully registered as a childminder smile - it has taken many months and lots of paperwork, but I am finally there, and I started this week! (have begun with looking after the children of friends who know me and my DS well).

I've been in touch with Ofsted and the National Childminding Association, and both agree that it is okay (i.e. not discriminatory) for me to exclude my DS's allergens from my home/setting. They were less bothered than I thought they would be, and seemed confident that I would be able to balance children's diets without dairy/eggs/nuts/pulses etc. (e.g. "but surely you are already doing this for your own son!")

I know there have been a few threads recently which question the wisdom of 'banning' allergens from schools etc. and I do definitely agree that trying to keep all allergens (there are many!) out of 'public' settings is a very bad idea. However, when working as a childminder, I will generally be on my own with 3 pre-schoolers and perhaps some older children as well. For me, it still seems safer (and more 'inclusive') to keep cow's milk etc. out of my home as far as possible. (^I do know that other people deal with things differently, and I do seriously respect that^, but I had many sleepless nights when I was trying to write my emergency policy.)

Anyway, on Friday I had my first call from a 'random stranger' who had found my details on the County website. On Saturday, she brought round her DH and their DD, and it seems that I am going to be looking after this lovely little girl for about 20 hours per week smile Her parents did not bat an eyelid when I told them about DS's allergies; they are more than willing to make sure her face and hands are clean when she comes, and they seem perfectly happy for me to balance her diet while she is in my care smile smile smile

Again, thank you to everybody who has been supportive.

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 21:09:06

I should add that I will be reviewing my food policy when DS is a little older.

At the moment, I don't take any babies at all (I don't want to discriminate against babies who are fed with formula which is based on cow's milk) but as DS gets older, and better at spotting the dangers for himself, I will probably change this (he is already very careful, even at home, but I don't feel I can rely on him just yet).

alison222 Mon 24-Oct-11 21:24:08

Hi I didn't see your original thread on AIBU but have just read this one. I worked as a childminder for about 6 years but have now stopped.

My DS is allergic to eggs nuts fish and sesame. For that reason I told all the parents that I wanted to provide the food as it was too complicated to worry about what they might be bringing in and that of course while they were with me nothing their children were provided by me ( unless perhaps we were out when DS was older and at school) would have any of these things as ingredients.
None of them batted an eyelid. In fact there were times when they wanted to send treats ( say a birthday) and took great pains to make sure it was ok to send x or y or z and safe to do so.

I understand completely what you mean about controlling the environment at home. These days DS is older so I do cook things he can't eat but am scrupulous about cleaning up in the kitchen and hand washing and making sure nothing gets cross contaminated. In fact he is hyper aware of it all himself and so it is OK as long as he knows we are careful ( but he doesn't trust other people so much and will double and triple check ingredients on anything offered to him while out)

I also agree with all those who said that you need to get used to the outside environment not being free from allergens but that is something that you will learn to cope with but think that you will have your hands so full with the extra children when working with them that one less thing to worry about is good. Personally I completely understand your POV. I just hope you don't have to look after a child with a soya allergy as this may make some of your dairy replacements a bit difficult.

greenbananas Mon 24-Oct-11 21:33:12

alison222, thank you for understanding!

Yes, soya allergy would be a nightmare, but I have thought this through and I reckon I could do it (DS was unable to have soya for a while). Wheat / gluten would be even worse, but again I have thought about this and I think we could manage.

I will be making it clear to parents that I provide all birthday cakes etc. smile

ChocaMum Mon 24-Oct-11 23:18:54

I hope things are going well for you greenbananas. Great news you're already up and going and have had enquiries so soon.

I am sure I will do a similar thing like you be suggested inreviewing foods at home when dd is a bit older and understands more. But for now it has made life a little bit easier if we can all eat the same foods, because she will always want what's on our plate anyway! I wonder at what age I can start getting the message across to her, I'm guessing 20 mo is a bit on the young side.

Keep is posted and good luck. smile

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