top of page

Trusting a Babysitter with Food Allergies

Updated: Jun 14




Your friend calls and says, "We just won tickets to this great band for tomorrow night! You guys HAVE to come! It’s free, it’s not that far and it’s going to be so much fuuuun!!"


Freeze frame.


As a food allergy parent, one of the first thoughts to go through your head isn’t “what will I wear?”, it’s “who the heck can I get to babysit at the last minute, THAT I TRUST?”.


Maybe your story is similar to mine. Your child had a scary reaction to a food. You saw an allergist. After hearing about the symptoms and doing allergy testing, your child was diagnosed with a food allergy.


You left the office with a prescription for an epinephrine auto injector and a reminder to avoid the allergen at all costs in order to keep your child safe. No instructions on how to shop, cook, or navigate the world - you were left to figure it all out on your own.


I share a lot about my family's food allergy journey in my book, "Just One Bite". Finding babysitters who were familiar with food allergies was something I struggled with. Over the years I’ve spoken with numerous food allergy parents about this. We all tended to rely on what was easiest - most often, family members. Some food allergy parents I've talked to didn't even trust family members to watch their food allergic child.


Managing food allergies can be scary, lonely and isolating. Not feeling like you can ever take a break can be overwhelming. More research continues to be done on the mental health impacts of food allergies. Tamara Hubbard, MA, LCPC launched the Food Allergy Counselor Directory in 2018. You can learn more at foodallergycounseling.org. It's a great resource if you're interested in finding an allergy informed clinician to support you on your journey.


My husband and I trusted our families to help, but none of them lived nearby when our children were young. We would typically ask family members to come stay with us when we needed to go somewhere. This required advanced planning and if they weren’t available, it was hard to find someone we could trust. On more than one occasion, we had to politely decline whatever event.


I saw this as a problem, so I worked on increasing our go-to options. After meeting a potential new babysitter, I would set a time for them to come over. This wasn’t just to show them around the house and get to know them better. It was primarily to teach them about food allergies.


My kids were allergic to milk, peanuts and tree nuts, all of which are among the most common food allergies. I had to teach them about how to take care of my children - what my kids could eat, what they couldn’t (please don’t pick up a coffee coolatta on your way over!), where safe food was kept, what an allergic reaction might look like, and what to do if they suspected my child was having a reaction.


It was stressful. Being emotionally attached made it hard to share the important information in a cool, calm, collected way. I often wondered to myself...


Did I stress them out?

Were they listening well?

Do they “get it”?


Questions like these prompted me to create a Food Allergy Babysitter Training. The class is designed to teach babysitters about food allergies ahead of time, in a calm setting. Things like facts, how reactions happen, and what to do in the case of an unintended allergic reaction. I love that food allergy parents are no longer left to do all training themselves, and babysitters are better prepared to work for families that manage food allergies.


Did they in fact "get it"?


A quiz at the end of class helps us ascertain just that. All participants are expected to “ace the test”. If they missed something, we see that as an opportunity for review, or possibly repeating the class to become more solid with the information.


Unfreeze Frame


Let's revisit this scenario. Your friend calls and says, "We just won tickets to this great band for tomorrow night! You guys HAVE to come! It’s free, it’s not that far and it’s going to be so much fuuuun!!" Imagine you pull out your list of trusted food allergy trained babysitters and start calling or texting to see who can do it. Now you're free to think, “what will I wear?!”


Where there's a will, there's a way. Start building your list of trusted sitters now, so you're not in a pinch with last minute plans. No food allergy babysitter training classes near you? Maybe I can help. Submit a message on foodallergyallies.com. or email me at foodallergyallies@gmail.com. Together we can make a difference.

32 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page