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How to not exclude a child with allergies at nursery?

(18 Posts)
TeWiSavesTheDay Mon 08-Jul-13 23:00:30

I have a supply of treats that are left at pre-school, if there is a treat that DD can't have the staff get her an alternative. It works well and she understands that she has to check food.

I personally think it would be a shame to ban bringing food in unless it was absolutely necessary. It adds a social element to the group, and I've found a few of the parents have gone out of their way to include DD anyway. Eg bought wrapped foods that are definitely dairy free.

( feel like I should add the disclaimer that DD is lactose intolerant not allergic, which is obviously different but she has severe reactions so we are extremely strict on it)

harverina Mon 08-Jul-13 22:46:45

I've found all this info really helpful too - my dd starts nursery in August and I am dreading it and fully expect some issues.

She is only 3 but is very aware of her allergies - the other day she told me to wash my mouth because I had eaten cows milk which makes me sad and happy at the same time.

It's more the adults I am concerned about and how seriously they take allergies.

Likeaninjanow Mon 08-Jul-13 20:58:17

He's absolutely fine about it, because he's never known any different. He's 'lucky' that we know other children with allergies, so he doesn't feel like the only person in the world who can't eat anything he likes.

I must stress that I did have to put a lot of effort into designing the care plan for the school (& preschool). I even bought a jug with a lid on it, so less milk got spilled when they lured their own. The staff have been fantastic, and the school dining room is patrolled by first aiders. We regularly test him on what he would do if he felt poorly at school.

We may of course, just have been lucky that the school have been so wonderful. I do think though, that his own understanding is crucial e.g. He wouldn't let anyone touch his food, or him, if they've been eating cheese.

I got some excellent advice on here about laying out a care plan, and allergy uk, and the anaphylaxis campaign can also help.

Hope it gets better smile

SallRight Mon 08-Jul-13 20:35:18

Thanks for all your comments everyone I do appreciate the ides very much.

I'm wondering about suggesting that I and parents of any other kids with allergies are invited to meet the staff to decide together the best things to do. I will then take along all the suggestions you have made and see what comes of that.

Half of me says they wouldn't put any other substances on the table that could cause harm so this needs taking as seriously.

However I think DS does need to be aware that he mustn't accept food from others without checking it (having it checked) and he needs to be practiced at accepting a substitute because there will always be occasions where risks are too high to eat what everyone else is eating.

I sat him down and explained that he must ask a grown up about food before eating by saying 'nuts make me poorly, is this safe'. But it is such a lot of responsibility for him and I don't want to frighten him either. I also explained that nursery will have some treats for him if others are having something that isn't suitable for him.

Thanks Like for you information about how you manage for your DS's allergies it is very helpful. I will take your advice re the epi pen and see if GP will agree. How is your DS coping - does it worry him? He done so well at school at only 5 when there may well be allergens around him.

turkeyboots Mon 08-Jul-13 19:44:49

DS's nursery bake a cake together for tea (or to take home if it isn't ready for tea) for birthdays. So can deal with any allergies in line with their normal practice.

I think its a lovely way round the issue.

Likeaninjanow Mon 08-Jul-13 19:29:52

This is a very complex subject. I have a ds with multiple food allergies. He is allergic to all dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, sesame, peas & pulses. He's anaphylactic to the first 4.

I baked goods & sent them to nursery for him. For me it's been very important to get the message over to him that actually he can't have the same food as everyone else. Ever. Everything must be checked. He must have his medication nearby at all times. For us, it's worked well. He's 5 now, and has had a good understanding of how careful he has to be since he was approx 3.

If I were you, I'd ask again about epipens, if he's had swelling. We had to push for them, which in glad we did, as he's needed them more than once. We've never had an incident at school though. And it's not nut free, egg free or any other allergen free.

I know it feels right to want to make life as safe as possible but, in my opinion, that is done through teaching them about their allergies.

lj123 Mon 08-Jul-13 19:18:47

I worked in a nursery and we didn't allow for cake to be bought in at all.
I feel that is a nursery is allowing it then maybe children shouldn't be aware and on collection staff can mention it and see if you would like to take some home, or if they still want to bring cake in, make sure it's dairy/nut free.

harverina Mon 08-Jul-13 18:42:42

I think it would be reasonable for you to ask that no cakes are brought into the nursery. The children will not be missing out - they can eat their cake at home. There is no need for them to celebrate their birthday with a cake in nursery.

A little different but our dd's toddler group stopped allowing cakes for birthdays due to my dd's allergies. They also only have milk, egg and nut free snacks.

The nursery is excluding your child when this is not necessary. I would ask to speak with the head teacher and possibly the school nurse?

VanellopePitstop Mon 08-Jul-13 16:04:15

I could have written your OP a year or so ago, I'm off out but I'll try to come back later and post.

eragon Mon 08-Jul-13 14:04:25

I think to add to the advice, that you might want to mention that this 'take it on the chin' is a form of exclusion.

You can consider having a substitute treat kept for him in a box (although this gets boring do to less safe food choice in this area and older allergic kids get fed up with always eating something different from the others)

also there are lots of birthdays, and does nursery really need to encourage kids to celebrate with cake all the time? there are other ways.

two questions for them,what is their inclusion policy, and healthy eating policy? and if every child matters (ECM) why is your child being excluded?

SallRight Mon 08-Jul-13 12:50:01

Thanks. This is really helpful. I like the one where the nursery will actually make a cake that is suitable for all NotA

Note your points Savoy even about competitiveness. Was a v fancy cake this morning! wink

maja I find those policies where things are sent home for a decision difficult. DS always has his eyes peeled and he would know absolutely that there was cake around and pressurise me to give it to him (at least till he's old enough to understand) which happened last week and he was fraught and tearful as a result. However at least your nursery sounds aware and follows the same policy for all children which is definitely better than different rules for some. Thanks for your help.

I'm just off to collect him so I will see how the substitute chocolate compared to the cake the others were having!

SavoyCabbage Mon 08-Jul-13 12:00:54

At ours, the children fashioned a play-doh cake for birthdays.

I sent a bag of chocolate etc in to school so dd can have something from that.

Our school has no restrictions either but I have to say I think encouraging people to bring in cakes is just so fraught with complications. Allergies, people who don't celebrate birthdays, competitive parents.

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 11:54:43

I work in a nursery, and if parents want to bring in cake to celebrate (which is allowed, rather than encouraged) it is divided up and wrapped to give to parents at home time so they can decide if they want to give it to their child. It has to be a sealed, shop bought cake with an ingredients/allergies list on it.

Children also don't eat anything we bake at nursery - it's all sent home for parents to decide, though this is mostly because some parents don't want their children eating any cakes or biscuits rather than allergies.

Younger children (under pre-school age) aren't allowed to bring food in for lunch. Pre-school class children are allowed to bring packed lunches and they are stored and eaten separately. I'm not sure what the allergies policy is for packed lunches - it might depend on whether there are specific allergies in that class.

NotAQueef Mon 08-Jul-13 11:52:04

^^ this is for birthdays

NotAQueef Mon 08-Jul-13 11:51:26

I am very surprised that the nursery allows any home bought or baked items to be brought in.
At my DS' nursery we are not allowed - but have the option of paying £4 and they will make one which is dairy/nut free (and possibly egg free) which is safe for all the children to eat.

SallRight Mon 08-Jul-13 11:47:05

Thanks for responding. DS has a care plan and we carry anti-histamines and nursery keep a bottle there for him just in case. No epi-pen was prescribed, which makes me nervous but I went with the consultants decision on that at the time.

As for nursery there has been no guidance about what foods the children can take in in their lunchboxes or on special occasions, just a note last term encouraging the sending in of birthday cakes so children could share their birthday with their friends. When I asked about this when he started I was told that the children don't really bring anything with nuts in and no-one had ever brought peanut butter sandwiches, but they don't share their lunches anyway.

They need to be a bit more sophisticated with their food policies don't they?

Are other parents normally required to check the packaging for allergy advice when sending food to nursery/school?

What is reasonable for me to suggest?

As a first time parent this is my first experience with nursery and also with food allergies.

I believe there are one or more children with dairy allergies attending also.

runningonwillpower Mon 08-Jul-13 11:19:52

I'm astonished that the nursery allows any goods which contain or may contain nuts. Most schools and nurseries operate a 'nut free' policy and parents respect this.

I would arrange a meeting with staff to agree how your son's potentially life-threatening allergy should be managed. If he has an epipen, for example, they should have two on site and the staff should be suitably trained.

As for the treats, it is best if he can have his own supply which you know is safe.

SallRight Mon 08-Jul-13 11:13:18

At DS's nursery parents are encouraged to send birthday cakes for their child's birthday.

Last week one was sent home for me to decide if he should have it and I couldn't risk giving it to him, he was very upset.

This morning there was one there as I went in, it was beautiful, from M&S and said not suitable for nut allergy sufferers on the box.

It turns out that on occasions cakes have been distributed my DS doesn't get any due to his nut allergy. Apparently according to one of the staff he always 'takes it on the chin'.

He is not quite three and hasn't been able to tell me this has been happening.

I feel so sad for him that he has been left out in this way.
I have agreed that I will supply some suitable items to be kept at nursery and substituted for him so he at least gets something when the other kids do. I will go so far as to provide cake slices and buns too to go in their freezer so he can have as close as possible to what the other children are having. So this afternoon I will be baking and sending things in tomorrow. For today I nipped back with some suitable chocolate for him and I hope he won't mind too much.

I am considering asking to attend the staff meting to try to explain the problems on DS's behalf. Sometimes I wonder how to get the balance of cautionary message right though. The allergy is considered potentially life threatening though his so far, only reaction, was not anaphylactic there was a lot of facial swelling and I wonder if it might have got that bad since we were able to get him treated with an injection within an hour of exposure. We had fortunately guessed straight away what the problem was as it was quite clear.

It's a fabulous nursery in every other way.

How do you/your nursery or school handle such social occasions?


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