Communicating with Babysitters and Other Caregivers
You know the routine inside and out. Now you have to communicate it to your child’s caregivers. Whether the babysitter is minding your child or Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit, every caregiver should understand allergen avoidance and how to respond in an emergency.
Tips for Communicating with Babysitters
- Set up a time to meet with your babysitter before she or he is scheduled to sit with you. Perhaps an afternoon as a “mother’s helper” would give the sitter a feel for your home and family and provide the time you need to review the allergy information.
- Inform the sitter about the allergy in a clear, concise, calm manner. Be sure to provide enough time to absorb information and ask questions.
- Go over every food that your child is allergic to. Give the sitter the allergen avoidance information for each food. If you keep allergenic foods in your home, show your sitter where they are.
- Teach the sitter how to recognize symptoms of a reaction, including anaphylaxis.
- Tell the sitter exactly what your child is allowed to eat, and set out the acceptable foods.
- Make sure the sitter understands the house rules on what can and cannot be eaten around your child. Explain that take-out orders, special snacks and treats are strictly off-limits.
- Explain the dangers of cross-contact and how to avoid it.
- Post emergency contact numbers and the number of the location where you will be, along with your cell phone number. Provide details on how and when to contact you, and include the phone numbers of others who may be able to help in the event of a reaction.
- List the prescription medications and the dosages that should be given if your child has a reaction.
- Show the babysitter how to use an epinephrine auto-injector, and make sure the sitter is comfortable using it. Using expired pens or trainers, let the sitter practice on an orange to get a feel for it.
- Leave a signed Food Allergy Action Plan near the phone in case the paramedics must be called.
- Stress the importance of calling 911 in an emergency, especially if the auto-injector is used.
- Put it all in writing.
Tips for Communicating with Grandparents and Other Visiting Relatives
- Explain the allergy, which foods to avoid, and the safety precautions you follow at home.
- Describe the symptoms of a reaction and demonstrate how to use the auto-injector.
- Emphasize that as hard as it is, "just this once" could be dangerous and foods that are off limits are exactly that—off limits.
- Provide safe foods that can be given as treats, particularly during holiday times or special occasions when food is a big part of the celebration.