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Childminding and allergies

(22 Posts)
epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:23:40

I'm thinking about registering as a childminder. My DS has serious multiple food allergies (he reacts anaphylactically on skin contact with milk, nuts and eggs and is also sensitive to some other foods).

Do you think it is reasonable to say to prospective parents that my house is a milk, nut and egg-free zone? (obviously I will undertake to provide healthy, balanced snacks and/or meals that are free of those allergens)

nannynick Tue 16-Nov-10 21:29:11

No I don't... because babies will have whatever milk they are used to having, not something soya based you provide.

However it may appeal to other parents whose children have a milk / egg / nut allergy.

By making it a milk/nut/egg free zone it is different to a childminder taking a child with an allergy and just avoiding that child coming into contact with those foods. As a childminder you should be open to all but you would not be accommodating children who didn't have the allergy, you would instead be banning them from having those food types.

Just my view though. Interesting to see what others think.

KatyMac Tue 16-Nov-10 21:32:21

Well I am a nut free childminder

But milk is such a staple; I can't see a mum being happy with no yogurt/cheese/custard etc unless they were allergy mums (iyswim)

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:35:56

nannynick, thanks for your quick response. Of course, you're absolutely right, it would be completely unreasonable to expect a formula-fed baby to do without his/her usual milk.. I'm so sorry, I should have made clear in my original post that I wouldn't even consider taking a baby who was fed formula based on cow's milk (the possibilty of baby-sick on my DS's skin precludes that!)

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:38:47

KatyMac, thanks for that. I kind of didn't want to hear it, but was expecting to hear it all the same sad

What do you think about soya alternatives to yoghurt / cheese / custard?

I tend to balance my DS's diet with a lot of meat (even though I was vegetarian before I had him!) I guess I would not be able to take any vegan children!

KatyMac Tue 16-Nov-10 21:41:16

What I know about soya (which tbh isn't that much) suggests I should be worried about calcium & excessive sugar (whether that is true or not I really don't know)

How are you going to deal with DS being at school/nursery as milk is unlikely to be banned at either & with a contact allergy that will be an issue

KatyMac Tue 16-Nov-10 21:42:42

BTW I phrased that wrongly - I can care for no children who need to be nutfree

<sigh> long day

nannynick Tue 16-Nov-10 21:42:44

Are there other families you know who have children with similar alergies? If there are enough of them... then you may have a viable business. The problem I see is that you won't have enough children to care for to make the business viable. Babies for example can be a lot of the income... as they are in your care all day, where as older children go to school.

If a child is not milk/egg free at home, then they could come to your home... be sick... and be a risk to your son.

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:50:41

Well, I was planning not to send him to school or pre-school! - at least until he is old enough to carry his own epipen!!

I have worked in schools / nursery / pre-school and also spent a term giving training to childcare students - and I don't believe for one second that they will be able to keep DS safe! (Yesterday, I rang the head of the best nursery school in my neighbourhood and she said the same thing... apparently, OFSTED require all pre-school children to have milk available on demand)

I know soya isn't great. Some of it is 'calcium fortified' (but I reckon that just means they add chalk). I suppose I was hoping that parents would think they could balance their DC's diets at home if I just did tea-time snack - or, as I said, I can provide a balanced diet based on meat, veg. and pasta etc.

KatyMac Tue 16-Nov-10 21:53:50

All I can see are problems for you (sorry - maybe I am negative today)

I have to go out on a limb to get parents to agree to 'no juice' & 'no sweets'

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:54:18

(i.e. was planning to home-educate my DS and have already spoken to the Local Authority about this)

nannynick Tue 16-Nov-10 21:56:20

Childminding is a business. You are seriously restricting your market. So what I suggest is that you do some market research to see how much demand for your service there might actually be... starting with people you already come into contact with via allergy support groups, as they I feel may be likely to want a childcare provided who provided a totally milk/egg/nut free environment.

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 21:59:02

nannynick, that's a really good point - I hadn't even though of them throwing up something they had eaten at home (shows how new I am to this!)

KatyMac, I really do appreciate your negativity - thank you! I want to hear the truth about my options!

On a positive note, today I mentioned for the first time that I might train as a childminder and 3 of my friends said immediately that they would definitely want me to look after their kids smile smile - they know about my DS's allergies and already make adjustments when we meet together - but just said "how soon can you qualify?" smile

I'm just thinking about the future really when their kids grow into school-age.

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 22:03:50

Nannynick, you made a really interesting point about 'banning' children from having certain foods. I've always wanted to be as inclusive as possible, but now I find myself wanting to be quite restrictive... it doesn't sit well... and yet I havs to keep my DS safe...

nannynick Tue 16-Nov-10 22:04:15

Probably worth you getting in touch with Sue about being a childminder whilst home educating your own child. She has been home educating for 10 years. Also probably worth chatting with other parents who home educate, such as on here (mumsnet) and on Education Otherwise.

epic Tue 16-Nov-10 22:05:44

Thank you so much for those links!

StarExpat Tue 16-Nov-10 22:08:51

I'm a teacher. There are 5 students with the allergies you listed at my school. Same that skin contact causes reaction. We have taken every precaution. They attend daily and everyone is aware and cautious. Just to say it is possible
As for childminding you'd just need parents who are willing to be aware of it and accommodating. Luke your lovely friends!

coral Tue 16-Nov-10 22:50:39

I started childmindng 13 years ago because my dd was also anaphylactic to milk and eggs - sadly still anaphylactic to milk! I didn't make my house a milk or egg free zone - it would have just made it impossible to have under 1's who still need a bottle during the day and also I wanted to teach my dd how to deal with her allergies within the environment of my home when there were risks present to her - ie, teach her not to touch certain items (eg bottles, formag frais pots)only eat from her own plate and not to share food and to question and double query anything she was unsure about so she would be equipped with the necessary skills to keep herself safe when she was not with me. 13 years on and this has paid dividends - I do not worry about her as I know she has the necessary skills to cope with her allergies on her own.

When my dd was smaller I did lay down certain rules to parents - other than formula and bottles, no other food or sweets to be brought on the premises so i was always in control of what the food was - everyone has always been more than happy to accomodate with my wishes! I have also always only made vegan cakes and desserts and serve up vegan ice cream! Parents, once again, have always been happy with this as their children are getting home cooked stuff rather than shop bought processed food. My only exception to this is yoghurt or fromag frais as I, from a nutritional point of view, I do not feel that if you have a child for all 3 meals you cannot not give them any dairy based products (even though my own dd has happily survived without them all her life!) Children are only allowed to eat sitting up at the table in the kitchen or in a high chair in the kitchen - and I mean everything - even fruit snacks - and all bottles are given in the kitchen. This then limits exposure of potential allergens to one room only. Everyone has to wipe their hands and faces before leaving the table if they have eaten anything dairy and then go and wash their hands again in the bathroom - even my little 2 year olds know that if they don't do this they can make my dd very poorly and it is respected by them all. When dd was little I also had a rule of absolutely NO toys in the kitchen, again to reduce exposure.

Main meals are based around something my dd can eat - the kids I have eat quite a few vegan meals alongside meat and fish ones which everyone is always happy about. I have to say though it did get easier once my dd went to school as I tend now to make any egg or dairy based meals at lunchtime when she is not around. Maybe a solution may be to offer shorter days - ie 9.30 - 4.30 so the children would only be with you for one main meal which you could happily make to suit your own ds.


nannynick Tue 16-Nov-10 23:32:02

coral - I think your approach is great smile and you have been there and done it, so know what steps have to be taken, which will be great for Epic to read about.

StarExpat Wed 17-Nov-10 08:21:53

Wow Coral. You have dealt with that so well. How helpful for Epic!

KatyMac Wed 17-Nov-10 08:35:29

Wow Coral, what a great system; just goes to show the initial reaction isn't always the best & that we need to think laterally about stuff

(which is what I said to someone in RL about mobile phone policies yesterday)

epic Wed 17-Nov-10 10:57:01

Coral, that is incredibly useful, thank you! I'm really nervous about having formula and yoghurt in the house, and still think I might limit who I take in order to avoid that. But it sounds as if you have made it work really well.

DS knows he has to check everything when we are out and about, and he has never tried to eat the wrong food (although sadly he has come into accidental contact with yoghurt on toys at the Children's Centre). However, our home is a 'safe zone' where he can totally relax and where he doesn't have to feel different all the time. I'm very reluctant to get rid of his one safe place.

Again, thank you for your help.

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