For a parent of a child with even a mild food allergy, it can be extremely daunting to leave your child with a new person, one who may slip and forget what snacks have hidden ingredients, or to double check with the kitchen staff at a new restaurant. For your peace of mind, here are some great tips to help ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to how to feed your children.
Create a Work Agreement
Here at Kith & Kin, we're huge believers in work agreements! Putting details in writing allows both parents and nannies much greater peace of mind, so that uncertainties and misunderstandings don't arise down the road and all expectations are clear.
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, or if you just want to make sure your nanny is preparing a similar diet to what you already have in place for your child, putting the details in a contract can be extremely helpful. If there are certain food items or ingredients that your child must not eat, then lay those out in writing. If you only let your child have a sweet snack on certain special occasions, explain this in the contract.
While this might seem overbearing, remember that your nanny is not a mind-reader, and it always helps to have something to refer back to! Every family is a little different, and the way you approach your child's diet will not necessarily be the same as the family they have worked with before. Laying out all the specifics for your child's diet, will help avoid uncertainty for your nanny. Be sure to give your nanny a copy of the contract, and/or put it up somewhere in the kitchen where they can use it for reference if ever they have a question.
Give your Nanny a Sample Menu
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, you might have learned to prepare specific dishes in order to avoid certain ingredients. You also will be aware of which prepared foods have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous for your child's food allergy.
In order to ease your nanny into the food norms of your family, write out a sample menu for a week or two, and give it to them to refer or add to. Include the dishes that your child is used to, and you would normally prepare for them, along with ingredients and instructions for your nanny.
Providing a menu for the first few weeks will ease your nanny into your lifestyle and food preferences, and get them acquainted with the types of dishes and ingredients your child is used to. Eventually, these dishes and ingredients will become second nature to your nanny. Include suggestions for snacks and prepared foods that are OK with you. Also include a detailed list of foods and snacks that are not okay to feed your child with a food allergy.
Avoid Eating Out
The experience of eating a meal out a restaurant can be so stressful and tedious. Even the most well-meaning kitchen staff might not be aware of every ingredient in their dishes. While it can be easy for a nanny to grab a quick lunch in the middle of their day out with your child, if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you know that sometimes it's best to avoid eating out all-together.
Explain this to your nanny, and make sure you always have meals or ingredients to prepare a quick and easy meal for your child on hand. If you know for certain of specific restaurants or dishes that are safe for your child to eat, write out a list of those and include it in your nanny's work agreement. After all, when it comes to having a child with a food allergy, you can't be too specific with your requests or requirements.
Post Emergency Information
Before the first day of work, make sure your child's nanny knows the specific protocol should they have an allergic reaction. Write down for your nanny the specific instructions that they should follow if your child shows signs of a reaction (and even talk about what those signs are).
If your child needs to be administered an epileptic-pen, make sure your nanny always carries one on their person and knows exactly how to use it - The Red Cross has special trainings for this, and it's prudent to pay for your nanny to attend.
Be sure to write down the contact information for which doctor to call, or which hospital to go to, in the case of an emergency, and have a copy of this in their diaper bag, backpack, and stored in a Note on your nanny's phone - anywhere that is easily accessible.
As with any case of a child with a special need or care, the most important piece of advice is to be, and constantly remain, as prepared as possible, while also preparing others in case Plan A falls through. By following these tips and strategies, your nanny will be ready and knowledgeable about what is safe and what is not. When in doubt, your nanny can pass on an item and substitute it for something else. If you have time to prepare your child's food, do. If not, provide your nanny with clear instructions on what to prepare for your child's meals. Leave many ready-to-go snacks for your nanny to give your child, if they're out for the day.
All of these tips will help set you up for success and ensure there are no misunderstandings or missteps in the event of an allergic reaction!
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, do you have any tips or advice of your own? Do you have any advice on how to get your new nanny on board with your family's dietary routine? Let us know in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
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Copyright 2021. Kith and Kin is a division of Adventure Nannies. Kith and Kin does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, height, weight, physical disabilities, veteran status, and marital status. We place nannies, newborn care specialists (formerly called baby nurses) and private educators throughout the New York metro area. You may contact us at hello@KITHandKINnyc.com