Playgroups And Playdates

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My sixteen month old daughter is active in a play group and we regularly schedule play dates with children her age. With her recent diagnosis, I've started the huge task of educating my mommy-friends about providing totally peanut-free snacks for play group. What have you-all done to help create a safe environment when your child is in someone else's home? Have you found an easy way to bring up the subject? Or a tactful way to remove unsafe snacks that are accidentally put out? I've tried to be laid-back about it but have only succeeded in creating a lot of anxiety among our play group hosts....

------------------ Kristin

On May 8, 1999

One of the things I've done, Kristin, to administer my son's peanut allergy in playgroup settings is to join the smaller playgroups. We have been part of a Wednesday morning playgroup for 2-1/2 years now and there are only 3 kids and 3 adults. Our Monday playgroup is a bit larger: 6 adults and 8 kids, but I've dropped in to playgroups where there are 10 adults and 20 kids - - far too big to control or influence the extra safety precautions that are needed for a peanut allergic small child.

Everyone has been sensitive to his allergy, for the most part. I have had mothers bake items from scratch and show me the list of ingredients afterward in order to make sure my son stays safe. I ask that moms who serve any store-bought items save the packaging for me so that I can read the list of ingredients before my son sits down for snack. I also think it fair that you ask overt peanut products *not* be served during playgroup time such as Reece's Peanut Butter cups or raw peanuts.

Hand washing is imperative before snack. I use those Huggie wipes (and *I* thoroughly clean his hands) before he eats.

My son has never had a reaction to touching other children's toys who have eaten a peanut butter sandwich two days ago, didn't wash their hands, and played with their toys.

I do enjoy these playgroups myself. Unless your child has an airborne sensitivity or is allergic to peanuts by touch, I wouldn't stress yourself out too much about your child touching other kids toys. Just be sure you always wash hands before snack.


On May 9, 1999

Thanks for the tip Noreen. I hadn't thought to ask my friends to save packaging to check. Such a straight-forward solution.

Our primary play group is a flexible group of ten adults, twelve kids. I've been using a checklist to manage which parents have or have not received lists of peanut-safe store bought foods and will be color-coding lists each time I create a new one to help everyone else manage this. I've found it takes a lot of pre-planning and organization.

------------------ Kristin

On May 9, 1999

I fix ALL the snacks or ask other moms to bring things from a list of safe foods such as fritos, cokes, etc.

On May 16, 1999

We have the FAN video "Alexander, the elephant who couldn't eat peanuts" available from the library here. I took it out and then lent it to the parents of my daughter's best friends so that they can watch it with their kids and talk about the allergy. You will be amazed at how much three and four year olds start to worry about their friend and remind their parents to avoid peanut snacks!

On May 16, 1999

Did you like the fan video "The Elephant who couldn't eat Peanuts?" I was thinking of getting it for Brady. I thought it would be good to show to the kids before she goes to preschool next year too. I was just wondering if your child liked it and if you found it helpful. Thanks, Tammy

On May 16, 1999

We also have the video "Alexander, the Elephant who Couldn't eat Peanuts" and my son loves it. When he was in Daycare, he took the video to school for Show and Tell and the entire class viewed it. It is a great video. It is animated and at the end of it, real children are interviewed about their allergy and how they cope with it. I highly recommend it.