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Food Allergy: Sending Your Child to School

Sending a child with food allergies to school or child care can be scary at first. Giving up some of the control over your child's snacks and meals is hard to do. But, with proper planning, your child can have a safe and healthy year at school.

Your child

Children as young as 4 or 5 can be taught that they have a part to play in managing their food allergies.

Give your child simple rules such as:

  • Do NOT trade food.
  • Do NOT eat food unless it comes from home.
  • Tell an adult RIGHT AWAY when you think you ate a food that you are allergic to. (Review specific words and gestures that your child should use to get an adult’s attention quickly.)
  • Always wear your Medic Alert bracelet or necklace.

When your child can read, teach him or her how to read labels on packages.

Your child's teacher and classmates

  • Write an Action Plan. List all the information about your child's food allergy and how to respond to a food allergy reaction on one page and give it to the school nurse and to your child's teacher. Have your child’s healthcare provider sign the paper.
  • Give the school staff a list of ingredients that your child needs to avoid.
  • Give your child's medicine to the teacher or school nurse. Tell them how to store the medicine. Make sure they have written instructions for how and when to use it.
  • Talk to the class or make a presentation about food allergies.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to tell you in advance before there are any parties or other food-related activities (including food crafts). Give your child’s teacher some foods that your child can eat to keep in the classroom in case your child needs a snack or the teacher forgets to tell you about an activity or event.

Your child’s school

  • Some children have severe allergic reactions to very tiny amounts of peanuts or other nuts, even to peanut dust. Many schools set up nut-free tables in the lunchroom. It is best to let any child sit at the nut-free table, as long as their lunches don't contain peanuts or tree nuts. This lets your child sit with friends and still be safe. Make sure that the school staff also watches for bullying. Some children with allergies have been bullied by other kids throwing peanuts or holding granola bars close to their faces.
  • Volunteer to help with snacks and party treats.
  • Send your child to school with a treat he can eat if the class is having something that he cannot eat.
  • Ask for "no eating" policies on buses and other areas where students may not be supervised.

For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-06-29
Last reviewed: 2012-06-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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