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Talking to Caregivers

Educating caregivers and planning ahead will help ensure that your child is safe and included while you are gone.

Managing food allergies is a team effort, and babysitters, extended family members and other caregivers are often important members of that team. Educating caregivers and planning ahead will help ensure that your child is safe and included while you are gone. Here are some important steps you can take to prepare caregivers:

  • Explain the allergy, which foods to avoid, and the safety precautions you follow at home. Be sure to provide enough time for the caregiver to absorb the information. You may want to set up a meeting in the days or week prior to when they will be caring for your child to ensure you have enough time to review everything and they have enough time to ask questions.
  • Carefully explain to the caregiver the symptoms of a food allergy reaction and what to do if a reaction occurs. Refer them to the food allergy reaction symptoms as described in your Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan
  • 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. 
  • Tell the caregiver to act first and call you later. Let the caregiver know that the most important thing they need to do in case of a severe reaction is to inject epinephrine and call 911. Let them know that, when in doubt, they should choose to use epinephrine and that you will not be upset at their decision.
  • Make it easy to reach you. Leave your cell phone number with the caregiver, as well as the number of at least one other person in case you are away from the phone.
  • Explain the dangers of cross-contact and how to avoid it. Have them read this How to Avoid Cross-Contact sheet.
  • Teach the caregiver how to read labels. Print out the Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen sheet and keep it in the kitchen or in another easily accessible location. Practice reading a few labels with the caregiver.
  • Leave a tray of safe foods that they can give your child while you are out.
  • Have the caregiver arrive after your child has eaten and is ready for bed. This strategy is probably the least stressful until you feel comfortable leaving your child with someone else.
  • Put it all in writing. Keep all important information and instructions together in an easily accessible place, such as a brightly colored binder in the kitchen, and make sure to update it as needed.

Preparing Others to Care For Children with Food Allergies

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