Allergy awareness has always been a hot topic; many babies and young children have a recognised, potentially life-threatening allergy – think nuts, eggs, wheat or dairy as well as fruit, soy and seafood – which can make the first few years tough for both baby and parent!
Everyday outings and get-togethers can cause stress and anxiety but there is much you can do at playgroup to help families with allergies to settle at playgroup.
Speaking with families about allergy awareness and seeking out emergency medical plans for any with a known allergy (it’s a good idea to keep these plans in a prominent place)
As a group create a checklist for managing allergies and work with families to ensure everyone is safe at playgroup
Rethink banning products that contain a known allergen as it is difficult to achieve a 100% ban – we all know how confusing product labels can be and it’s easy to become complacent over time. It’s best to rethink what WHOLE foods are going to be available at snack time
Consider serving only fruit and water at snack time BUT be aware that some children have known fruit allergies (such as kiwi fruit and banana). If food items cannot be avoided think of strategies to minimise risk such as nursing toddlers while they drink milk or having a dedicated chair or stroller for babies/toddlers/children with an allergy
Be vigilant about hygiene while preparing snacks to avoid cross contamination of food items
Children at risk of anaphylaxis should only consume food supplied by their family
Do not use any food containers or packaging known to house allergy-inducing products (for example egg or nut cartons) for arts and crafts at playgroup. (Additionally, ask family members of children with allergies to check any craft products in use for any ingredients that might cause a reaction.)
Allocate separate tables for food and art/craft stations. Where this is not possible clean tables well between uses
Help children to develop good hygiene practises, for example, washing hands before and after eating and implement a rule of no playing with toys while eating
Wash playgroup equipment and toys regularly and clean up spills immediately
Little things you can do….
Playgroup WA’s development officers can help playgroups develop health and safety policies and procedures or point you in the right direction for more information on any playgroup matter. To get in touch, simply call our Hotline on 1800 171 882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Does your playgroup have any allergy-aware practises to share? We’ve heard of some groups that only make playdough using rice flour … we’d love to hear from you, please share your comments below.