Mother\'s Day Out

Posted on: Fri, 01/07/2000 - 4:55am
Kristi's picture
Joined: 08/17/1999 - 09:00

My son, Cooper, is almost 2 1/2 years old. I am a stay at home Mom...and we have always planned to get him involved in a Mother's Day Out program at one of our local churches. Since we found out about his peanut allergy we have held off on making any decisions about where to send him. I have been calling around and talking to different places...and I am amazed at what I hear. They tell me that they make sure that the kids with peanut allergies don't sit next to a kid with peanut butter...and I am stunned...all it would take is one day to slip up and my son could be in very serious trouble. Oh well...let me get to my questions...I guess me rambling on is like preaching to the choir.

What has worked best for you? I have found that there are two types of where the kids can bring their own lunch (which spells DANGER to me) and the other where the institution provides the meals. I initially thought that it was best for the institution to provide the meals...and then I got to thinking about how closely I have to watch the labels...and I doubt someone else would really pay as close attention as I do.

When I talk to the places, What questions should I ask? What is a good, safe environment? Would he just be better off at home with me?

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Posted on: Fri, 01/07/2000 - 5:28am
Tina H.'s picture
Joined: 10/13/1999 - 09:00

There are so many things to worry about with this dreadful allergy, aren't there? When my daughter was in pre-school, luckily she didn't have to eat lunch there. I told the school that no peanut snacks of any kind could be served to any of the children and my daughter was only allowed to eat snacks that I packed her from home. Now that she is in 3rd grade, of course she eats lunch at school (that she brings) and she sits at a table that is designated "no peanuts". When the kids eat snacks in the classroom, no kids are allowed to eat anything with peanuts. I do want to tell you that the worrying does get a little bit less overwhelming as the allergic child grows up. My daughter is even more careful than I am, and that is saying alot! She absolutely never takes food from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Fri, 01/07/2000 - 10:10am
CVB in CA's picture
Joined: 10/15/1999 - 09:00

I would look for a coop preschool or regular preschool that is NAEYC accredited. This is usually a more professional program and higher quality. It seems they are more organized and CLEANER than a lot of programs.
NAEYC is "National Association for Education of Young Children". They audit the facility and the program. It is a pretty thorough checklist and requires a lot of work. Most places do not have it. If you tour an accredited facility, you will notice it is almost always one of the better places. It can give you a benchmark to compare to other places to help sort out the better quality unacreditted programs.
I was very lucky in my coop preschool, they voted to go peanut free as long as my son was enrolled- nice people. They only do a snack, no one brings a lunch. The other parent coop workers are all aware of the allergy. My son wears a medic alert bracelet, which helps to remind everyone. I have, of course, found hidden peanuts in foods in the school.
Usually it has been in leftover "mom" snacks from our monthly evening meeting, so I don't make a big deal about it, just try to educate the contributor. A lot of times people just forget, especially if they work with a different class. Also, be really careful of "party bags" from birthday parties, etc.
I've never had a problem with the kid snack at the preschool. We do popcorn and apples a lot. We also have a lot of kid cooking projects where they make their own snack, like cheese sandwich or stuff.
Stay away from "drop and dump" child cares at gym's, shopping malls, etc. You really need to stay with low ratio programs like 3 or 4 or at most 5 kids to 1 teacher or parent aide. The more kids per adult the less controlled the situation. Shared facilities can sometimes be a problem, the classroom could be contaminated by a meeting or other program.
Developmentally, your child can benefit a lot from a good preschool program even a few hours a week. Just keep looking for a situation where you are more comfortable. It is always more reassuring if I know the staff has worked with peanut allergy before successfully. Often the program director is more aware of the issue than the first person you may contact.
Good luck. It can be done, my son has been in preschool for 2 years without any exposures.

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