Should I quit my job to stay home with my PA son - Peanut Allergy Information

Should I quit my job to stay home with my PA son

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Hi, my 18 month old son just had a severe allergic reaction. At the babysitters he was given a peanut butter sandwich and he'd never had PB before. I was called to come get him from work as he had some hives. 20 min later I arrived and he was wheezing and covered in hives and trying to fall asleep. I rushed him to emergency room, and they gave him an EpiPen, prednisone and a proton pump inhibitor for inflammation. I have been with this daycare lady for 8 years with my other 2 boys. She promises she'll no longer serve peanut butter on the days he's there but her home is not peanut free. I have been packing all his lunches for the last 2 weeks since the allergic reaction but I sit at work all day worried he will touch something in her home with PB on it and put his fingers in mouth. Should I be this worried? I am thinking of quitting my job to be home with him as peanut free daycare basically costs what I make in a day (I have 3 kids at the babysitters in the summer). Did any of you ever leave work to stay home with your PA child or change daycares? This lady is a family friend and I don't want to hurt her but I am fearful he will get into something at her house since it is not peanut free.

By julieanna on Aug 18, 2013

It was worth it to be Mom first and teach my daughter to be responsible, grow and mature. Fortunately when she started kindergarten it was Peanut Free (never a 100% guarentee- because some households may send some to school by mistake). If a child can't articulate then when they are having trouble who is going to notice first? Who is teaching them for their future management and awareness? Who does your child matter to most? Our girl is going off to college now and has other medical stuff that became came up in her life. She is responsible and is her best advocate and I think it is because of us being proactive, thinking, being prepared & NEVER winging it!

By AD75 on Aug 10, 2013

I'm in the same situation as you, one of my 18 month old twins just had a severe reaction to peanuts for the first time, blood test showed class 4 allergy to peanuts. Babysitter does not have a peanut free home but said she will try to clean behind others when they eat peanut products. We decided we just can't trust that he will be safe, especially at such a young age, so I'm moving to part time at the end of the month (fortunately can do so with my job) and grandma's will be my boys. Tough decision and financially difficult, but safety is most important to us, especially at this young age. Good luck with your decision.

By informedmomma on Aug 11, 2013

Hi, It sounds like he had a pretty serious reaction. :( I already stay home with my boys, so I didn't need to make that decision. We are also homeschooling our boys, and were thinking about it before we found out about the peanut allergy, but that definitely sealed the deal. I'm not very trusting of others because, unless they have been there and it's their child or close loved one, they just don't get it. What scares me, is that the scary stories you hear usually happen at camp or school, in other words, when the parents aren't around. It does help that you have known this lady for a long time, and I don't think a special "peanut free" daycare will necessarily be better than a caring person to take care of him. But I do think it would be necessary to not have peanuts out at all when he's there, and the place would need to be cleaned properly before he's there again if peanut products are out. But then again, there's always a chance that a peanut could be on the floor, and at his age, he could pick it up and eat it. Being an allergy mom just sucks. Staying home with your kids is a great thing, allergy or not, and if you can make it work, I say go for it. You can always try something else if it doesn't work out.

By Saralinda on Aug 11, 2013

I know it is scary. First of all, breathe. You will be able to find an affordable peanut free day care. I bet you might even find that another mom who has a kid with allergies who could watch them in her home. There are solutions.

By jap on Aug 11, 2013

this all depends on how much you like your job and financial situation. One does not always realize the cost of working, extra vehicles, day care , taxis, eating out, quality of life, stress on marriage. I would say stay home even if your child did not have a peanut allergy !!!!!!! Many summer programs are not safe as has been shown with the sad case this summer with the 13 year old at camp. I have stayed home for years my daughter had her one and only peanut exposure at age 1, she is now 15 and never had another one. My son is doing his second degree at college.I cook all the meals do all the housework , banking , yard work , doctors and school appointments. Don't worry it is the best investment you will make. Oh did i mention that i am a Guy Julian

By lexeast on Aug 12, 2013

I second the comment to take a moment to really breathe :o)

Discovering your child has a life-threatening allergy is very difficult to wrap your mind around, because it changes how you think and feel about everything you once thought was fairly stable.

My second child had an severe response which found me rushing to the ER when she was just over 1 year old. She had unintentional contact with a PBJ while at my mother's home. My mother handled everything well, but I still felt very uncertain in the days/weeks to follow--even when my daughter was with me or my husband. At the time my childcare consisted of time with my mother and a MDO program that was already peanut-free.

I have worked and I have taken time off, so I don't want to push either side of that debate. What I can tell you is that yes, you are reasonable in feeling the need to reassess your childcare options. Your child has new needs and restrictions now, so you may have to make new choices. Or you may be able to reconcile your concerns with honest discussions with those around you. Maybe your friend would change her stance if she fully understood all your concerns. Unfortunately no one is going to strive for perfection in this area quite like a parent.

After my daughter's allergy diagnosis, both our and my parents' homes immediately became 100% peanut and tree-nut free or as best as we could manage as we continued to learn more and more about foods and proper cleaning techniques to sanitize everything. Unloading our household of everything that had nuts in it or processed near it was daunting and took half a day of label reading. Grocery shopping was a nightmare for months, because of all we didn't know and how long it took to read every label in the store. At the time, I had to go to three different stores just to find all the items I needed that were safe. We even joined a church that was peanut-free. I did everything I could to eradicate nuts in our lives, and yet I constantly felt overwhelmed with all the choices and changes these stupid little nuts had wreaked in one fell swoop.

My daughter is now in third grade and I still worry. I still have meetings with her school(which is NOT nut-free). Her first day of kindergarten I sat in the school all day for fear of leaving the premises, even though the school had done everything in their power to help me plan for her first day. I still fret and go on every field trip (because healthy moms take a bag of almonds on field trips). I bake every cupcake she eats and provide safe snacks "just in case". I'm the go-to person the church calls with food allergy questions.

You will always be your child's greatest protector, but you are not an island. You, too, need help and support. And unfortunately keeping my daughter at home forever wouldn't protect her from the times I have messed up. So I suggest you ask your doctor for some names of parents who you could contact for helpful tips in your area. (My pediatrician gave me a list.) You are not alone. There is no perfect way to be an allergy mom (or dad). We all take it one day at a time.

By Sherrylk on Aug 13, 2013

I know exactly what you are going through. My PA son had is first reaction at 8 months when he unintentionally got ahold of his older brothers peanut butter crackers. Whether to stay home with you son or not is a tough decision and many have given some valueable advise to consider. Whatever your decision I encourage you to teach your son how to live in a 'nutty world' and not be afraid of it. One thing my husband and I chose to do was make sure our son was educated on how to always ask if foods were safe, know which foods he should never eat (absolutley no bakery products, for example). If in doubt chicken out is our moto.

My son is now getting ready to enter 1st grade, and yes I am nervous. What parents isn't when a child has a severe medical condition? While keeping peanuts away from our son is our #1 priority and close #2 is making sure everyone who takes care of him (day care, school, relatives,ec.) knows what to do when an exposure does occur. And I have come to accept that it will occur. That actually helps keep me a little calmer when he is away from me. I know the people taking care of him won't panic, have been well trained on how to administer his EpiPen and get him to the ER. Education is the key to making your life less stressful. Educate yourself, educate your son (even at his young age) and educate those who may take care of him.

By on Aug 14, 2013

Question of the Week: Answered! Every week, will be answering one of the questions posted on our community page! Our response:

Finding out that your child has a food allergy can be extremely overwhelming. Before making a decision about how to proceed, it is important that you weigh all of your options carefully.

Consider your financial situation. If staying home is simply not an option, do not stress. There are several solutions to the problem. Your child cannot always be in your care; eventually your son will make his way to school, where he will be under the supervision of several people. Thus, it is essential that you be an advocate for your child. Research about food allergies and educate both him and his caretakers to ease your concerns and make sure he is well protected.

Talk to your friend and voice your concerns. When it comes to food allergies, education is essential and it may be the case that she simply does not understand the danger and severity of food allergies. Have a conversation with her, express your fears and anxieties, and make sure she is trained in how to properly administer an Epi-pen and Benadryl, how to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction, how to properly read labels and about cross contamination.

After speaking with your friend, if you still do not feel comfortable leaving your child in her care, then it might be in your best interest to find a peanut-free daycare center or another babysitter who will promise either to keep peanuts out of the home or take the steps necessary to properly manage your child's allergies.

By JoelJacobson on Aug 15, 2013

Our severly peanut-allergic son is always with either my wife or me. When I am at work he is with my wife, and when she works on the weekend he is with me. We should do this at least until he is old enough to take care of himself.

What is more important, your son or your freinds feelings? Does she know how to inject epinephrine? Does she even have one with her?

By Smmerriam on Aug 18, 2013

I was in the same situation almost 2 years ago. We couldn't afford it either but we saw no other choice. I stay home and I'm planning to home school as well. It's just not worth it to me to put a teacher in charge of keeping my son alive on top of everything else they have to do.

By mom1995 on Aug 18, 2013

I can more then understand the protect and defend response. You have had many great oppinions presented. I will add mine to the list as food for thought for you. My daughter is about to be 18 and she is in the relm of the worse possible reaction for even second hand contact. My husband and I both believe that sheltering her would not teach her how to live in the world. She attended a preschool and has attended public schools, yes there have been times that someone did not do the right thing but since middle school she has had both the confidence and knowledge on how and what to do to be safe. She has had to educate adults along the way. She is a very impowered young lady with a greater understanding of how human nature is not always as kind as one would expect. She also made the choice to go to law school and become a Civil Rights lawyer to represent kids like her. So she is the example of how letting her experince the world has helped her take charge of her allergy and not let it rule her life. Don't get me wrong she had her doubts and just befoer middle school she was affraid and wanted to be home schooled. That was tough to help her understand that she could not let her allergy rule her life. She made it and even thanked us after the year. Which is hard to come by at that age. Good luck in what ever path you choose and know you can always change paths at any time.

By Mrsdocrse on Aug 18, 2013

Here are my thoughts. My son had his first reaction at home with me. He was bout 18 months I guess. I gave him a taste of my english muffin with PB. At the time I was working and he stayed with my god mother during the day with other children and she also did not have a peanut free home. I was worried. But she did not let others eat PB when he was there. She made all the kids wash hands after they ate. ( which they should be doing anyway). We never had a problem. It is scary when they are little. I used to send food with him. It was just easier. He stayed with her until he was old enough for preschool. He then went to a peanut free school.... He still goes to my god mothers on school vacation weeks and sleeps over sometimes ( he is 12 now) and we have never had a reaction at her house. ( he did BTW have a reaction at a peanut free school! ) That isn't always the answer. Unfortunately we don't live in a peanut free world. Honestly if I had it to do over again I would still send him to my god mothers but I wouldn't be so worried about getting him to a peanut free school but rather getting in the habit of managing himself. My son has had only one anaphylactic reaction, and a lot of small mild ones where he came into contact but didn't ingest. You can manage it and keep him safe. In the beginning it feels like your life will never be normal... But it will.... You can travel and go out to eat just like other people. I didn't have a choice to stay home.... It wasn't an option for me. If I could have stayed home I would have.. but not because of the allergy.... good luck

By jiffycansuckit on Aug 19, 2013

Yes, that is my opinion. An 18 month-old child should not live in a home or attend a daycare in a home that is not peanut-free.

I was blessed to have my mother start caring for my son in my home when I pulled him from the "peanut-free" daycare he was attending at 14 months old.

You're very angry, mom1995.

By informedmomma on Aug 19, 2013

I thought this forum was for information and support? We all parent our peanut allergic kids differently. How about we try to be respectful of the way others deal with their kid's allergies?

By mom1995 on Aug 18, 2013

"a child with a severe peanut allergy should not be in a home, daycare or otherwise, that is not peanut-free." Really so what planet would you have them sent to? This world is not peanut free. Based on you input then you must have quit teaching to stay at home with your child? A peanut allergy is not a prison sentence.

By jiffycansuckit on Aug 18, 2013

To address your question, "Should I be worried?" My answer is yes. At 18 months old, your child is still picking up everything off the floor and putting it into his mouth. You said her home is not peanut-free. Simply not serving peanut butter on the days he's there isn't going to keep him safe. Because of cross-contamination and trace amounts, so many foods you wouldn't think of are unsafe. Is she going to research this allergy to the fullest extent like you will? No. Can you successfully function at work each day hoping she did a good job wiping down her entire house and cleaning every crumb off the floor the night before? Will she even think of that?

He's too young right now to teach him how to cope with his allergy. At this young age, you have to be uber-careful. When he's old enough to speak and old enough to tell others alllllllll of the foods he can't have, then he will be "safer" at her house. Personally, I feel that a child with a severe peanut allergy should not be in a home, daycare or otherwise, that is not peanut-free.

By Yael Kozar on Aug 18, 2013

My daughter didn't end up bad she started out high level anaphylactic at 18 months and 2 weeks to peanuts which she was around all the time. Something switched in her system at this time. I can't imagine if she was in someone else's care. It took me years to train her age approp. to her stages in life. No one "got it" not even family. Constant vigilance and training. You can't even train someone if you don't know the obstacles yourself. Every time I saw Nanny's and day care situations I knew I was going to have to do this to keep her alive. We had 6 near misses until she turned 7. And that was with me training her. At 18 months she can not take care of herself and learn to navigate in the real world. You as her mother are going to have to learn how to navigate too. THere is no perfect book, senerio, every child is unique for her anaphylactic allergies. YOu will not even know how strong her immune system is for years when it comes to dodging bullets or peanuts as we say in the advocacy world. My daughter is now 13 and can go to the beach or a movie with her friends without me. She is secure, vigilant, not risky when it comes to eating or being anywhere near peanuts which are literally everywhere! Be involved and stay involved or create a great day care, nanny situation. It will take you years to learn how to manage this and meanwhile you train her. At 18 months there is no living in the real world when anything she touches can kill her. But with your guidance and support she will be navigating every day in preschool, school and the real world. You don't want to make her allergy worse with near misses you will be dodging with her or especially without her without people "getting it" . Some peanut allergies are OAS some are even airborne like mine. SOme parents can relax. Mine is extreme so I have had to relax being in control and making her an ACTIVE participant in her own life-giving her control, strength and courage to do anything as long as she has her life-sustaining meds, can get to a phone to call 911 and enlists her friends cause it takes a village. My daughter is an advocate herself and helps other teens have fun be safe and be diplomatic in the real world. If you can try to work from home or see if your boss can allow you pt time. This is really hard financially. I have been an advocate and spokesperson helping families for over 10 years for free.

By momtoemie on Aug 18, 2013

That was good advice from the person who said to "breathe...". It's been almost a year since our 22 month old was diagnosed & I still have lots of questions about how to handle this allergy. And I am even a Registered Dietitian. No nutrition training in the world can prepare you for all the concerns you have with this.

But I can give you some advice here. My allergist is very well respected in Ann Arbor. He told me that the day care had to be peanut-free or move her. We go to a small in-home day care & the kids are in her finished basement (which has it's own kitchen that she uses for the day care). At first my provider offered to just not let the other kids eat it when my daughter was there. I told her what my allergist said that I would need to move her. Luckily,she was great & quickly said she would not have it downstairs. I do not expect her to remove it from her upstairs kitchen since the kids are not there. However, if her home kitchen & the day care kitchen were the same - I would have expected it to be removed. The risk of cross contamination is just too great. What if one of the other kids smeared some on the seat & she missed it only to have my daughter stick her hand in it later. I also was pro-active & donated some Wow butter & Sun Butter for them to try & the kids like that just fine. I do not know if you need to stay home for this reason but you need to have a real heart-to-heart with your current provider & decide if you are comfortable with your child in her care. If not - look around.

Good luck! I know it's not easy;)

By informedmomma on Aug 19, 2013

No, but I know more now, and I probably would if it happened again. I definitely would if he had a rash or any other symptoms along with it. Our new allergist said if two body systems are affected, give the epi.

By momtoemie on Aug 19, 2013

Thank you! Did you epi pen for it?

By informedmomma on Aug 18, 2013

In our experience, the vomiting associated with a reaction is violent and non-stop, and he always felt great beforehand, and pretty good afterward. Hope that helps distinguish a reaction from the flu. :)

By shumakerm on Aug 19, 2013

You're welcome. His latest R.A.S.T. test showed that his allergy is a 44 out of 100 (up from 18 two years ago) or 4 out of 6, depending on scale you use. He definitely also has a contact allergy to nuts/legumes. He is SEVERELY allergic to dander and has life-threatening asthma. Fortunately, his asthma is under control and he is very responsible about his allergy. However, he is just a small child, so he could easily make a mistake. I actually worry more about when he becomes a teen and is out of my sight. I am praying for a medication that will prevent the reaction by then. Scientists are learning more and more about what is going on in the bodies of those with allergies.

By momtoemie on Aug 18, 2013

Wow! He touched a food container & had a reaction from that?? Holy cow. My child's allergist told us to give epi for vomiting... I am scared that every time she gets the flu I am going to be wondering if I need to get the pen out:(

Thank you for sharing - you reminded me that I need to reinforce the importance of hand washing before eating!

Take care.

By shumakerm on Aug 18, 2013


You cannot be overly concerned with a child that young and anyone can make mistakes. I would give serious thought to either A)Finding another mom who cares for a PA child who can watch your child or B)Quitting your job and taking in another child to care for to make some money for yourself.

As someone who has now dealt with the peanut allergy for five years, it is so easy to make a mistake. My son did go to preschool three weeks before he turned four. But I started drilling it into him at 2.5 to always ask if something is safe no matter how many times he's seen it and he may not eat ANYTHING without Mom or Dad's permission. His preschool was very small and I was there to check snacks each day. I always had safe snacks in the classroom. The following year the same preschool changed its policy and allergic children could only eat snacks packed by their parents (a safer decision). Now my first grader is headed to a large school and I am very nervous. Fortunately, he's never needed an EPI pen and has only been exposed one other time to peanuts. HOWEVER, that reaction was scary - huge hives everywhere, vomiting hours later in the middle of the night. He required round-the-clock Benadryl AND Zyrtec AND an Aveeno bath to get rid of the hives, which took 48 hours to clear up. All that from his touching a Chinese food container and then eating a banana. You cannot be too careful. Good luck with whatever you decide.

By gmlmom on Aug 18, 2013

I completely understand. This is a very hard decision and it will be different for everyone.

My daughter was 2.5 when she had her first reaction. When the tests came back she was off the charts she was so allergic to peanuts. This was 10 yrs ago and back then the food labeling law had not been passed and so many people did not understand. I quit my job. To me all I could see was my daughter's life and did not consider anything else. I am writing this because I had a wonderful career, excellent job and money was not an issue. I thought I would be able to return to work whenever I chose to do so. That however was not the case. When I decided to return to the work force I was considered "obsolete". It took me 3 yrs and 2000 resumes before I found something. My job is at a much lower level and 1/2 the pay it was when I left in 2003.

Having said all this I would not do anything differently. I did not see other options at the time. People are much more aware now, but you need to decide your specific circumstances. I just wanted you to know that if you leave your career you may not get it back. I never thought that would happen and I did not take that into consideration when leaving.

I wish you luck in trying to reach your decision and with the health of your little boy. I realize right now things are overwhelming. It will get better, I promise. Your life is forever changed but you will be able to find out what works for you and your family. Good luck.

By MadelynesMom on Aug 19, 2013

I say go with your gut. I am convinced that no one does it better than mom (that's you). Be prepared as things will be harder financially but you can cut costs creatively! Good luck!