Food allergies come with loads of stress, as all parents know. There’s nothing worse than living in fear that your children could have an allergic reaction at school, and you wouldn’t be there to help them.
Sometimes we all wish we could lock our children in a clean room and keep them safe from the world, especially when the world is full of things that could make them sick. Sadly, life must go on, and taking your children out of school isn’t the answer. Sending your child to school with food allergies can be one of the most stressful experiences as a mom. We understand that, so here are some tips we’ve gathered from other moms to help you feel a little more at ease when sending your little ones back to school in the upcoming weeks.
Schedule a Meeting with the Nurse and Teacher
Setting up a meeting with the school nurse and your child’s teacher is a great opportunity to instruct them on your child’s allergies and make sure they know what to do in case of an allergic reaction, as well as how to prevent those reactions in the first place! Be sure to bring a list of any questions you might have for the nurse and the teacher. This is the place for you to express any concerns or fears you might have going into the school year.
Be open and honest with the teachers so that they know exactly how to help you and your child. Something we tend to overlook is that teachers want your child to be safe just as much as you do. They want to feel confident that all the children in their classroom are safe, and that the parents also feel safe leaving their child with them.
We mean everything. Make sure that all of your child’s items have his/her name on them and, in some cases, their allergy information. You wouldn’t want your child’s bag or lunch box getting mixed up with one of their classmates’, so this is a good way to keep things straight.
Keep Up-to-Date on All Your School’s Medication Rules
You’ll want to constantly be up-to-date on the school’s regulations about allergy medication. Whether or not your child can keep an epinephrine auto-injector in their bag might be something you would like to know. Make sure you know if they have an allergy action plan, or what happens in case of an emergency.
Keep a Safe-Snack Stash
Just like with any time you leave your child, you should make sure they have safe snacks stashed somewhere in case they get hungry. Sometimes the school nurse will keep a drawer of safe snacks for these types of situations. Ask the nurse or the teacher if there is somewhere you can leave some allergy-safe snacks for your child. This stash will also come in handy if another parent brings in treats for the kids that aren’t safe for your child. This way, your child will still have a special treat with the other kids, but you won’t have to worry.
Sit Down with Your Child
Your child may be reliant on you to tell them what they can and can’t eat. Make sure your child knows that they can’t share/swap food items with other kids because it could make them sick. They need to know what they are allergic to, and how to explain that to other kids or their teacher. You can also create an allergy information card to have your child show to people when they ask—it would also be helpful to make one of these cards for the teachers so that they know how to explain your child’s allergy to other parents if the need arises.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Some schools are great with food allergies, and some aren’t. Not everyone knows or understands how serious a food allergy can be, so you shouldn’t ever assume that someone knows what to do. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to your child. You just want them to be safe, and sometimes you can’t be too careful.
If your child’s allergy is serious, you can set up a 504 plan with your school. I found this blog post that explains what a 504 plan is and why you need it.
We could keep going with more tips, but this is a pretty good place to start. We’d love to hear some of your tips for sending your children with food allergies to school! What have you found that works? Hopefully this list will get you thinking about some of the precautions you can make as you send your child to school in the coming weeks. Have a great school year!