For parents of children with food allergies, finding free time can be tough. But finding a caregiver we feel confident leaving our children with can feel like mission impossible. That’s exactly why our Allergy-Aware Babysitter Series was born. Because capable, local help does exist. And allergy parents deserve a night out too. Read the second post in this series.
Tracking down trusted, capable care for our food-allergic children is often challenging and anxiety-inducing. There are so many things to consider and even more things to worry about.
Does the caregiver have any experience with food allergies?
Do they understand the signs and symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction?
Do they know how to administer an EpiPen?
Will they act quickly enough if one is needed?
Will they accidentally bring traces of an allergen into the home?
So when I read about one food allergy mom’s overwhelmingly positive experience finding high-quality care through Datenight Babysitting, I was surprised and (I admit) somewhat skeptical.
So I caught up with 4 of Datenight’s sitters, here in Toronto, to dig a little deeper.
Here’s what I found out: They’re both capable and comfortable caring for children with food allergies. Get to know a few of Datenight’s allergy-aware babysitters below… just in time for the holidays! (Maybe you don’t have to miss all those holiday parties, after all.)
1. Amira (Business Student, ILAC)
- Age: 20
- Years of Experience: 6
- Rate: $16 / hour
“I’ve learned everything from my parents.” – Amira
Amira is no stranger to the world of allergies—she grew up in a household with 15+ food allergies—so she comes with years of hands-on experience. Over the years, she was trusted to care for her food-allergic siblings (her youngest sister having more than 10 allergies and her brother’s peanut allergy being airborne). Because of this, she is well aware that, without an EpiPen, things can get serious pretty quickly, and that severe reactions warrant a visit to hospital. Although she has never used an EpiPen herself, she has witnessed a friend self-administer epinephrine after she accidentally ingested a known allergen
2. Erica (Student, Ryerson University)
- Age: 21
- Years of experience: 7
- Rate: $14 / hour
“I have always remembered the ‘blue to the sky, orange to the thigh’ saying.” – Erica
Erica has cared for 2 children with peanut allergies, and her awareness about food allergies in general is impressive. While she has never had to use an EpiPen, she feels confident that she would have no problem administering one if circumstances arose. She knows, for example, that there are many different foods that can cause allergic reactions (not just peanuts!), and that reactions can vary considerably from person to person. She believes that due to the nature of food allergies, they aren’t always preventable, which makes it all the more important that caregivers receive relevant training and understand what symptoms of anaphylaxis look like.
Erica recently completed AllergyAware.ca’s online food allergy course for caregivers.
3. Madelin (Student, University of Toronto)
- Age: 22
- Years of experience: 10
- Rate: $14 / hour
“I know to read labels carefully and to be mindful of food sharing.” – Madelin
Madelin has cared for a number of children with serious food allergies. She has been trained on how to use an EpiPen, but has not had to use one to date. During the 3 years she spent working at child-minding facility, she learned how to read labels thoroughly and be mindful of food sharing. As a common courtesy, she does not wear strongly scented products, like perfumes, before entering someone’s home.
“Madelin knew to ask questions about emergency plans, location of EpiPens and safe snacks. She was also happy to practice using the EpiPen with me before we left.” – Pauline (food allergy mom)
4. Uzma (Early Childhood Educator)
- Age: 30
- Years of experience: 4
- Rate: $18 / hour
“It’s safer to use the EpiPen than not to use it.” – Uzma
A dietitian in her home country, Uzma cared for children with food allergies in a hospital setting on a daily basis. While she has received EpiPen training, she has never had to administer it; however she observed several anaphylactic reactions while working in the hospital. Uzma is acutely aware of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis as well as the emergency protocol. She has an understanding of things like cross contamination, and does her best to minimize accidental contact. For example, she typically avoids eating a known allergen for 1 to 2 days prior to caring for a child with food allergies.
Uzma recently completed AllergyAware.ca’s online food allergy course for caregivers.
If you’ve been dreaming of the day you could go out again (but haven’t found a sitter you’d trust with your food-allergic kids), you may want to consider joining Datenight Babysitting for access to these allergy aware sitters and many others like them. For a limited time, get your first month free with promo code ALLERGYBITES. Sign up now.
Still feeling nervous? Datenight’s list of standard interview questions is a great starting point for finding out if a particular sitter is a good fit for your family. And you’re going to want to print and post this amazing resource for allergies families on to your fridge.
Have you had an amazing experience with a sitter? Share it with us in the comments below!
Friendly. Supportive. Encouraging.
Want to join a community of like-minded food allergy folk? Join the AllergyBites Community on Facebook.
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