Babysitters and Food Allergic Child

By Heather Legg

Any parent worries when leaving their child with a babysitter. But when there is a medical condition, that means more to worry about. So how do you make yourself comfortable leaving your food allergic child with a babysitter?

Here are some tips, guidelines and suggestions from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network:

• Decide on  your criteria. What is the minimum age you want? Do they need first aid training? Do you want them to have a driver’s license?
• Ask friends with kids with food allergies who they use. Are they okay with sharing sitters?
• Have a pre-sitting meeting. Have the potential sitter come over for a few minutes while your child is home and chat with her. Observe how she interacts with your child and this is your chance to ask her questions about emergency situations to get a feel of her responsibility.
• Once you decide on a sitter, you can have a “training session.” You can do this before the actual sitting, maybe have her come an hour or 30 minutes early. You can go over Epipen usage and even have her use an Epipen trainer (or an expired Epipen) for practice. Let her know any “house rules,” for instance, can she bring food into the house, or just eat what you have? If you get a good vibe you can do all of this pre-sit interview.
• Go over foods that must be avoided, make sure you cover everything – you may want to actually write out a list to go with your important phone numbers Write down your home address in case an emergency team must come out.
• Teach the sitter all the ways to recognize allergic reactions and what to do if she things something may be going on. Show her where everything is kept, and you may want to have these out on the counter in case of emergency. Go over the food allergy action plan and let her know that is fine to call you in any situation.

Although it is nerve racking to leave your child in someone else’s hands, you should remember that since they are at home in your own environment, chances are nothing will happen. You probably don’t keep anything with the allergen in it at your house, so there shouldn’t be a risk if your sitter doesn’t bring food in. Have her wash her hands when she gets in just in case. Then go out and have a good time!

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