Sending Son with PA to Preschool

Posted on: Sat, 07/29/2017 - 5:27am
Traci_J's picture
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My little guy with a PA is turning 4 next month and I am sending him to preschool. This is a little anxiety invoking since he has been pretty much under my watch since he was diagnosed with his PA at age 1. I spoke to the preschool director at then end of last school year (my daughter was attending there) and she has agreed to make his classroom peanut free. Parents do rotate bringing snacks so I am depending on the other parents and teachers to be vigilant. He will of course have his epi pen with him at school, but I will also be dependent on a teacher to make sure it stays with him as he rotates classrooms during the day. It's all a little scary, but I can't keep him home forever! Any advice from parents who have sent their child with a PA off to preschool for the first time?

Posted on: Tue, 07/30/2013 - 6:22am
Mamaokiyama's picture
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Joined: 07/28/2013 - 13:27

My son is four with sever peanut allergy. Last year I sent him to a Montessori program twice a week. The school is "peanut free" meaning no peanut butter or peanut products. But they do not go as far as "may contain" or "processed in the same facility as". Parents were responsible to bring a snack for the whole class weekly. I didn't want the responsibility to fall on a teacher who is managing 10 or more students at a time so I packed a safe snack for my son and opted out of bringing a class snack. I had a meeting with his teacher and taught her how to read the allergen statements on packages. I brought in "beyond a peanut allergy" flash cards and had her study them as we'll as share the information with the class. Most importantly I showed all of the office members as well as his teacher how to use the epi pen. Even though they go through training themselves.

Posted on: Tue, 07/30/2013 - 12:25pm
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Have you thought about homeschooling? We do it for both our kids, ages six and 10, the six-year-old has severe PA, diagnosed at one year old. Keeps them home until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2013 - 3:18am
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Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, PeanutAllergy.com will be answering a question posted on our community page!
Our response:
Sending your child to preschool can definitely be a scary thing! However, with these helpful tips, you can manage!
The first thing we recommend you do is talk to the school nurse as well as you child’s teachers about his peanut allergy and find out the food allergy policies of the school and if there is an action plan in place in case of an allergic reaction. Make sure that you provide the teacher and nurse (or any other caretakers) with EpiPens and Benadryl, and make sure they are trained in how to administer the medications.
Some preschools are “nut-free,” which is a great option! If the school is not nut-free, ask if the administration will send out a newsletter to other parents asking them to refrain from packing food containing nut products. Of course, the important thing to remember is that non-PA parents sometimes forget to pack nut-free food, so always stress to your child to only eat food packed by mommy and daddy. Always work with your child to help them understand their food allergy and give him the tools to be an advocate for himself when you are not around!
We also recommend giving a presentation to the preschool about your child’s allergies. This is a great opportunity to educate the administration about the severity of food allergies and be an advocate for your child. Put together a folder containing a picture of your son, emergency contact information, an Emergency Action Plan signed by your physician (which can be found on foodallergy.org), a description of symptoms to look for, and instructions for how to use an EpiPen (which can be found online at FARE). Also, you could put a list of safe-foods and unsafe foods for your child. This binder can be kept in the teacher’s desk, so if there is ever a substitute teacher he or she will know what to do. If your child has several teachers, make multiple binders.
For lunch, always pack your child his own lunch and safe snacks. It is better safe than sorry! Birthday parties can pose another challenge. Pack your child his own safe treats to eat so he doesn’t feel excluded. You could also make a suggestion to the teacher to have non-food birthday parties that involve craft-making or other fun activities.
Be an advocate! Check in with the preschool continually throughout the year, educate other parents and the administration about food allergies, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Stay positive and remind the staff how appreciative you are of their efforts to protect your child. It is essential that everyone work together and stay on the same page so that your child’s safety can be protected.

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2013 - 5:12pm
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Joined: 08/03/2013 - 23:52

Two years ago, we sent our youngest (who has a severe PN allergy and is allergic to all TN) to Pre-K. After informing the director of her allergies, we also included letters from her ped and allergist about her food allergies. She has asthma as well. Thankfully, the director decided to make the school completely nut-free. I agree with the recommendations by previous posters. The school provided lunch, which on the days she attended I made sure were PN-free (they sent home a lunch newsletter each month) and then one day a week I brought her home for lunch, which I know isn't always possible for everyone. The letters from her docs really seemed to help, as well as continuous communication with the school administrators. As our daughter enters first grade, we will continue this. I wish you well and hope that all goes ok with your child!

Posted on: Sat, 08/03/2013 - 5:14pm
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Hi! Just wanted to ask if you follow a particular curriculum. We are considering moving across the country and while our kids are safe in their current school, the idea of homeschooling has come up quite a bit. Thanks!

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:14am
SuperTeacherMom's picture
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We went through this a few years ago. We asked to meet with the school principal, nurse, and teacher prior to school starting. We provided medical documentation with detailed information on how to accommodate our child's health needs. We offered to train the school staff on how to keep him safe and how to read labels. We then provided a list of allergy safe treats for the school to send home with students. Later on we had our son placed on a Section 504 plan due to his medical concerns with the PA and his building his completely peanut free!!!! Educate the school and keep them up to date! Good luck!

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:17am
pattycakes's picture
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Joined: 07/13/2001 - 09:00

As I sit next to my 15 year old son with PA, I can remember the anxiety that I endured the first couple of days of his preschool. I has my son wear a Epi-Pen fanny type pack. The Epi sat on his back and buckled in the front. He wore this every time he left the house. The first day of Preschool I sat in the entrance way where he could not see me; however, if needed I was there. After that when I dropped him off I asked to look at the snacks for the day to ensure they were Nut Free. If it had nuts I had a spare no expiring snack in my car and the preschool allowed me to store a snack for the class in a cabinet for an urgent safe snack. I prayed and it worked out very well. Have a plan, Be Prepared and Train the staff all of the signs and symptoms and how to respond to the issues.
Sending positive thoughts.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:24am
mom1995's picture
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Joined: 11/09/2004 - 09:00

Our solution was a simple one. Step one make sure the teacher is the one who understands the depth of the allergy. Step two let her know you are relying on her to keep your son safe. Step three provide her with a substute snack in the event one is sent that is not safe. We did this from preschool until second grade. Anytime that snack had to be used the teacher would call me or send home a note and I would send a new sncak the next morning. This seemed to work well.
It seems scary (and it is). There will be moments that you question if its best. Just have faith and patients to help the uneducated learn.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:40am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I am a pre-school teacher & a mother of a PA son (now in high-school) I insist that the pre-schooler's parent inspect any snacks brought by an other parent. And only if the parent of the allergic child is OK with the snack will I give it to their child. I think the best route is for a child with an allergy to have his own snack from home. As a teacher, I can't know about the cross-contamination that might occur at someone else's house. As a teacher I'd also like to add that too much trust should not be put in "peanut-free classroom".

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:45am
lbader's picture
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Joined: 03/16/2009 - 19:38

My 13 yo daughter was the first in her preschool and her elementary school with a severe allergy. I sent a safe treat for keeps at school for when other children had birthdays. I encouraged parents to call me about treats and labels. If there ever was a snack or treat that was questionable, the teacher would send it home for the students to eat there. The principal of the elementary school asked me to make a safe snack list. At first I wasn't too thrilled to do this since labels always change but it really worked the best. The list clearly stated no generic items and by brand name the ok snacks. Honestly busy parents aren't going to read a label before sending their little one off to school with a snack. The list worked great. It's still in use in our school even though my daughter is o longer there. A parent with an allergic child adds and modifies it every year.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 2:03am
jenlil's picture
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Joined: 04/01/2010 - 18:21

My daughters school only allowed store bought products so the teacher could read the ingredients. I don't let my Dtr eat anything processed in a facility with nuts so that limits certain stores, which can be difficult. That excludes Walmart and target.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 3:35am
thekilij's picture
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Joined: 03/27/2011 - 09:35

My daughter is five and I do not allow other parents to feed her. I loath schools that rotate parents bringing in snacks. In fact, I pulled my daughter out of a private school that refused to eliminate this kind of snack program. I provide all of the snacks and meals my daughter requires and prefer she be in an environment where other parents are doing the same, so she doesn't feel left out. I also ask teachers to give me notice if there will be a party, event, etc., so I may provide my daughter with safer and healthier alternatives.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 5:30am
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Joined: 08/16/2012 - 11:20

I'm torn with this post. I'm slightly offended, and I'm on your side at the same time. Does that make sense? I'm a little offended because I'm a teacher. Teachers are very educated people. That's why they are teachers. Every year we are trained how to use an epi-pen. The week before school starts, that's what we are doing. We are in training. Training for the peanut allergy kids, training for the diabetic kids, training for blood borne pathogens, training for the newest way to teach all learning styles simultaneously. Training, training, training! That's not to say you shouldn't talk to your child's teacher. They don't get it. I was one of them before my son was diagnosed. They don't understand the cross-contamination, the trace amounts, the "no store/generic brands", the "when in doubt, don't give it". This training, they don't receive. The nurse needs to start incorporating this into the epi-pen training. The nurse at my school needs to start doing this, but I don't think she really gets it either because she doesn't have a child with a pa. And whatever you do, do not ask for a meeting to train the staff. It won't go over well. There are better ways to handle this.
I am very guilty. I didn't get it. I would even eat peanut butter in the classroom with the pa student in there. I thought, "Ok, don't give him peanut butter or peanuts. Done!" I don't teach elementary, and I don't deal with classroom snacks so it was a little different but still wrong. I wasn't being mean, I just didn't understand. So I say all of this to say, know that the teachers have been trained, but also know that they probably don't get it. They've most likely only been trained how to use the epi-pen.
Maybe approach the teacher with this attitude: "I know you've been trained on this, but for my peace of mind I have to say this," and then make sure she understands that even her snacks have to be peanut free. Definitely give her a list of unsafe foods. Better yet, why don't you create a daily or weekly rotation chart for the teacher (she's got a ton to do right now!) and then the parents can sign up for which day or week they want to bring one of the approved snacks. The other parents won't be deciding what to bring, it will already be decided for them! That's a great idea! I would create a chart for you if I could upload documents. But don't be all like, "Hey I've created this chart for you to use." Ask her if it would be ok. She'll say yes. It's all in how you approach it. Teachers like to be the ones in control of their classrooms. It gets the year off to a bad start when parents come in trying to call the shots. I'm just being honest and trying to help you navigate this situation in the best possible way so you won't be labeled a "high-maintenance parent".
Maybe you could talk to the principal and find out which teacher would be the best for your child. A teacher is not going to be hurt because you pulled your child from her class. It will be one less kiddo she has to worry about!

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 5:42am
jiffycansuckit's picture
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Joined: 08/16/2012 - 11:20

I'm confused about your Walmart and Target comment. Maybe this is something I need to be doing? Please explain!

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 7:55am
Traci_J's picture
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Joined: 04/10/2013 - 08:20

Thanks so much for your post. To clarify, maybe the situation will make a little more sense if I mention that this is a private preschool at a local community center. There is no nurse there for sure. The teachers do, I assume, receive teacher training from the director, but based on conversations with teachers and the director there, I'm not really sure how much, if any, training they get about allergies and how to use an epi pen. They have had "a few" children with allergies attend there over the past few years, but I get the impression that they decide on how to manage the child's allergy on a case by case basis as directed by the parent. The one time I left my son at the day care at that same facility (which has some of the same preschool staff) I had to give them all a quick training on the epi pen because they had no idea how to use it. If it were a public school, I would feel a lot more confident that they received great training in regards to allergies and epi pens. I have worked in public schools myself and am familiar with the extensive training received there. I did try to get my son into the preschool at our local elementary school, but all of the self-pay slots for his age are full with a waiting list as long as there are slots!
Anyways, I do appreciate your feedback! I will take care to find out how much training the teachers and staff have already received before I throw my two cents in :). My main concern is that in this case the teachers will be asking me what I want to do and I want to be prepared to know what to tell them.
I chose this preschool because my daughter attended there and the program was great and mostly because they expressed the most willingness to work with my son's allergy, whereas other preschools I contacted said things like "we'll make sure that he has his own peanut free snack, but Suzy sitting next to him might be eating peanut butter." So I guess this is my best shot :). His preschool is actually NOT a peanut free school. Yikes. Just his class will be peanut free. There are other classes that use the same classrooms throughout the day that do allow peanuts. I'm hoping that with great communication we'll all be able to work out a safe environment for my son.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 8:03am
TanyaDawn's picture
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Joined: 07/08/2013 - 11:36

Hi, I know how stressful this can be. I went though the same thing when my daughter started kindergarten years ago with her peanut/nut allergy. Up until that point she had always been home with me. We created a bin of snacks for her to keep in the classroom. We just bought a little Rubbermaid bin and put her name on it and filled it with peanut free snacks just for her. The teacher kept it in the classroom. Then when a parent showed up with cupcakes or treats for the kids that my daughter couldn't have or we didn't have any notice that the parents were bringing anything in or the teacher wasn't sure if our daughter could have them then she was able to go to her special bin and take one of her treats. It worked out great! Another thing I used to do when she would go to friends houses for birthday parties was I would try to talk to the parents and find out what flavor cake they would be serving, chocolate/ vanilla etc and then I would make cupcakes at home and send her with one. Then when all the kids were eating chocolate cake she was too! The kids didn't realize, nor did they care and everyone got their cake and ate it too. Btw my daughter is now starting grade 8 in the fall. Knock on wood we've never had to use the Epipen and she's been safe all these years in school. We have to always be watching but it's a bit easier now that she can help manage it. I also wrote and illustrated a children's book about kids in situations like going to school, parties, Halloween etc, It's called "Squirrel's Peanut Allergy. Check it out on line! Hope all this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 9:04am
jenlil's picture
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Walmart and target labels their baked goods and even some breads that they are processed in a facility with nuts. I hardly ever look at regular bread labels but looked at Walmart hamburger bun label that had that statement on it. I don't let my daughter eat Walmart or Costco cakes either.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 11:19am
nutfreemee's picture
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Joined: 08/04/2013 - 17:59

It is too bad that this "teacher" is offended and torn about this post. NO teacher should think they are so educated that they should be making these decisions.
The parent needs to provide ALL SNACKS. Period. In the event of a class party where foods are brought in, the parent needs to be THERE in close supervision, not relying on the teachers or caregivers.
This is not an insult, it is an essential part of parenting a child with a peanut allergy.
This is essential.
The parent should never rely on any teacher or caregiver to have thoroughly researched all the ingredients in either homemade or manufactured snacks. Homemade snacks are the absolute worst because you have no control over cross contamination in someone else's home.
When my granddaughter (severe peanut allergy) was in nursery school, there was a valentine's party. I attended to make sure she did not eat anything other than what I had sent in with her. One of the mothers came up and said to her "I've made some chocolate chip cookies for you J. and there are no peanuts in it," my granddaughter was excited and took a cookie, which I immediately removed from her hand. I asked the woman if she had looked at the chocolate chip package to see if they were processed in a factory with peanuts, and she looked at me like I was from outer space and said "duh, it is chocolate, not peanuts!" This is what happens, even when people are trying to be good.
People do not understand that if something doesn't include Peanuts in the name, that doesn't mean there isn't contamination.
The bottom line: you need to send ALL snacks for your child to the school, and all teachers need to know that is all they can eat. Period.
If there is a party, you need to be there to monitor because the teachers might not be there at every slip of the snack.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 11:53am
DrCarol's picture
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Joined: 08/04/2013 - 18:38

My son started pre-school at 2 yrs old, and the school had had only a few students with food allergies. I made a notebook with my son's photos hours after his one and only peanut allergy reaction. I made an appointment with all my son's teachers just before the start of the school year and explained what a peanut allergy looks like, how to prevent an allergic reaction, and how to treat it. I showed them the photos and taught them how to use the epipens. I walked them thru the Allergy Action Plan, and "quizzed" each one of them on how to use the pens. I also made up a bag of safe treats for days when the school or a parent gives out treats. I also have been teaching my son since he was one year old (I gave him peanut butter on his first birthday :-( ) that he can ONLY EACH FOOD THAT MOMMY SENDS TO SCHOOL. I also check in periodically with his teachers and quiz them about how to give the epipen. I have also told select parents of other students about his allergy and they have all been very understanding and supportive, though most don't really understand the food restrictions. My best advise to parents is be proactive: 1) teach the teachers how to handle the situation; 2) that a food allergy, like peanut allergy, is LIFE THREATENING, very unlike an allergy to grass or dust. Check with the teachers periodically throughout the year and THANK THEM for teaching and for taking such wonderful care of your child. It really takes a village to care for a child with a peanut allergy. Hugs to all of you moms & dads out there!

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:37pm
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Joined: 08/04/2013 - 20:23

I would be very careful with food items brought to school by other parents. My daughter attends a peanut free school and a peanut free snack list is distributed to every parent. I have found that many parents dont pay attention or don't remember to check for peanut free especially if it comes from a bakery or specialty shop. We have a special cupcake kept in the freezer for her at the school for birthday or other holiday celebrations.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 1:45pm
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I'm not a "teacher", I am a teacher. I was being honest and sharing my heart. It's unfortunate that you can't appreciate brutal honesty. I can be torn by being slightly offended and on her side at the same time. In case you didn't catch it, my child has a severe peanut allergy. Because he has a severe pa, I can think I am very educated on the topic and can make these decisions for students with pa, but that's not even what I was saying. I think you need to read responses more than once before you respond with an attack.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 2:04pm
jiffycansuckit's picture
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Thanks for the clarification. That is a very different situation than a public school. You're right, the day care workers, and probably preschool teachers, aren't trained. I had to show them how to use the epi-pen because they said they had no clue. I had to pull my son from his daycare at one year old. They also had a preschool. The director said the facility was nut-free, but that just meant no peanut butter and no nuts. They were giving the kids granola bars and cheese Ritz Bitz snacks, etc. I provided his snacks, but he was 9-12 mos old. He could've picked up a crumb and put it in his mouth. The daycare worker was eating M-n-M's, trail mix, pecan sandies. I said something to her, but she blew me off saying she would wash her hands. I then went to the director. It didn't help. He moved rooms. The new teacher brought in homemade choc chip cookies. I asked about them and her response was disheartening. The director had "no eating in the rooms" rules, but she didn't enforce them. So I had to pull him. I'm sure you will have better luck, and your son's much older.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 2:13pm
mom1995's picture
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Joined: 11/09/2004 - 09:00

To jiffycansuckit.... You are a teacher? Who ate a pbj with a pa student in your room? You are a great example of why so many of us have little respect for your profession. You are a teacher NOT a doctor. You maybe a pa parent but you are not in the doctor office with any of your students and their doctor so you are NOT qualified to make ANY decisions for any other child but your own. You need only do as you are told when it comes to other peoples medical issues. Do us all a favor keep your narrow minded comments to yourself.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 2:41pm
jiffycansuckit's picture
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Man, beat someone up for being honest about how they understood a peanut allergy before their child had one. I used it as an example of how others don't understand the allergy and how you have to be careful.
Yes, I did that. I don't have any problem admitting my mistakes. I was wrong. See there? I did it again. I can admit when I was wrong. Don't beat me up for a mistake that I made 8 years ago. When someone confesses something, have compassion that they can admit their failures. I hope you don't treat your children the way a few of you have treated me, when they confess some wrongdoing to you. What hateful comments you have made.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 9:06pm
OurSons's picture
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Joined: 08/05/2013 - 04:01

I completely understand your anxiety. We have two PA in our house and at the beginning of each school year I give the teacher a packet. It includes an example on how to read a label for peanut allergies, a peanut free snack list, a list of websites explaining what a peanut allergy is and what a reaction looks like, I also include some websites that have games that the students in their classes can play that explain it at an elementary level. The last thing I include is a letter from me explaining their individual reactions and my contact information. Last year I even went into one of my son's classrooms and explained it to the students and I gave his teacher a copy of "Alli the Allergic Elephant". I know this might be over kill to some but I've only ever run into one teacher who didn't appreciate the information and it makes me feel better.

Posted on: Sun, 08/04/2013 - 9:27pm
mom1995's picture
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I can appreciate someone owning their mistakes. However you only went on to say how teachers are trained and know what to do, and how this parent should approach the teacher but sucking up. After 11 years of dealing with educators in 3 different states I can say niceness only works if the person you are dealing with doesn't go into it 'knowing' they are better educated then you the parent. In you second post you made reference to 'being able to make the decision'. My point was you are not, Being a pa parent I would NEVER tell another I know better then you. That is exactly how your comment came accross. Don't get your nickers in a twist when someone calls you out for your apparent know it all ness.

Posted on: Mon, 08/05/2013 - 12:01am
Sarah McKenzie's picture
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Traci - bring your child a safe snack everyday.

Posted on: Sat, 08/10/2013 - 4:45am
amorrow1987's picture
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Joined: 10/23/2012 - 20:24

I love this! your post said everything that i think. today is my son's 3rd birthday! :) we found out about the allergy when he was 1.

Posted on: Mon, 08/12/2013 - 2:17am
informedmomma's picture
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Joined: 10/02/2012 - 18:16

I was going to say the same thing. :)

Posted on: Tue, 08/13/2013 - 9:17am
Jill Hammer's picture
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Joined: 08/13/2013 - 15:56

We first researched preschools and found one that was peanut free, and also comfortable with administering an EPI pen. When touring the school we were shown their EPI pen cabinet. Each pen and meds was in a bag with the child's name on it and also their photo. At this school they confiscated any peanut products, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc, and made those kids purchase the meal for the day. So they were very on top of this. Even though this was a peanut free school they would not give my kid anything to eat or drink other than water. I packed ALL snacks and lunches. I asked the teacher to let me know if there was a bday at school. I had cupcakes in my freezer and would send one when there was a bday at school. I also gave a bag of nonperishable snacks to the teacher in case I missed a bday, or there was a special holiday type snack that day. Halloween, Christmas are hard since kids get little candy treats, like plain m&ms (mfgrd in a peanut facility). Even though it was a peanut free school I think some parents still didn't realize some things are manufactured in a facility. I always had extra stuff at home to swap out. Good luck!

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The prevalence of food allergy has dramatically increased over the past two to three decades, and not just among children. Preliminary results...

When someone in the family is diagnosed with a food allergy, a choice must be made whether to ban the problem food or foods from the home. The...

Looking for a fun way to share what you know about your own food allergies? Or are you hoping to educate the people around you in a fun way about...

According to the results of a new study, children lacking Vitamin D may be more susceptible to food allergies. Researchers working at the Albert...

If you or your child has a peanut or nut allergy, identifying the presence of nuts in food becomes a priority, but what if the written or spoken...

Soap allergies can cause a lot of discomfort and itching. If you suddenly develop a rash or bumps on your skin, you may suspect that you have an...