What is your experience with food allergies?
Look for: A clear understanding of the severity of food allergies, demonstrating attention to detail and a conscientious attitude.
Red flag: Someone who claims that being on a lifestyle diet means they understand food allergies. Or someone who doesn’t have any interest in learning about food allergies if they are inexperienced.
Are you trained or have you ever had to use an auto-injector?
Look for: Sharing why they have experience will help give you a better understanding of their familiarity with food allergies. If they have had to use an auto-injector, find out what circumstances led to using one and how they knew to use it.
Red flag: They had to use an auto-injector because they mistakenly let a child eat an allergen.
If you are not familiar with food allergies, do you feel capable of learning and being ready to administer an auto-injector?
Look for: Someone who can give examples of a previous situation in which they were responsible for a high standard of care for an individual. Someone who displays empathy, takes the situation seriously, and feels confident they can take action in an emergency situation.
Red flag: If they are not comfortable giving an auto-injector this is their opportunity to let you know.
Before Your Sitter Arrives
Consider special requests you might want to make.
This is a chance to make any special requests that will keep your home safe. For some that list could include asking that he or she doesn’t bring any food into the house, having your sitter avoid eating allergens before coming to the house, brushing their teeth before they come over, or washing their hands when they get there.
Plan for time to train.
Have them arrive early enough to give you plenty of time to go over all the details of care and answer any questions.
Share your child’s food allergies.
List your child’s food allergies and explain how severe they are.
Discuss what food your child can eat while you’re gone.
Let the sitter know if your home is free of your child’s food allergens and if they can eat anything in the house. If you do have allergens in your home (i.e. families that have kids with different allergies), consider preparing a list of safe and unsafe foods for each child. If needed, share what exposure will cause a reaction (for example: eating, touching, breathing in).
Leave Emergency Contact Numbers.
Leave contact numbers for both parents as well as the phone number of where you will be. Be sure your sitter has a charged phone if you do not have a landline.
Reactions and Instructions
Teach your sitter what an allergic reaction looks like.
Although every reaction can be different, it helps to lead the conversation by describing any reactions your child has had in the past, but be clear that future reactions may not be the same. It is important to educate and describe mild and severe symptoms, including:
- runny nose
- itchy mouth
- a few hives
- irritated skin
- mild nausea
- shortness of breath
- pale or blue skin
- tight throat
- trouble breathing
- swollen lips or tongue
- multiple hives
- feeling of anxiety or doom
Spokin Tip: Give examples of how your child might communicate an allergic reaction (ex: my mouth feels spicy or my stomach is watery).
Provide clear instructions on what to do if your child has an allergic reaction.
✔ Refer to your emergency action plan and give explicit care instructions for every scenario:
- one mild reaction
- multiple mild reactions
- a severe reaction
- Also provide instructions when the known allergen has been ingested but there are no visible symptoms.
✔ Let them know where you keep your auto-injectors or any other medicine or inhalers they might need.
✔ Show them how to use the auto-injector trainer. Have your sitter practice the trainer in front of you to ensure that they know how to use it.
✔ If an auto-injector needs to be used follow these 3 steps
Use this easy-to-access chart to share these tips with other moms! Then be sure to leave your sitter with the reaction list, care instructions and auto-injector videos.
Spokin Babysitter Resources
Spokin has created auto-injector tutorial videos for Epi-Pen (available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin), Epi-Pen Generic, and Adrenaclick Generic — each under one minute long. We have also provided a video tutorial for AUVI-Q.
We love UrbanSitter because you can filter your search on their site and find only sitters who have experience with food allergies! UrbanSitter is offering a $50 credit for their services — redeem your coupon code in the Spokin app.
Experience: Was the nanny of a toddler with severe allergies to any nut product, gluten, and lactose intolerance
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/1280887
Experience: Nursing student, first aid trained and experience with children with allergies, she actually was there, with the parent, when the child had her first allergic reaction (to eggs) and the sitter knew what to do.
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/231331
Experience: Worked with a family who has a child with a severe nut allergy.
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/511269
Experience: The nanny for two boys with food allergies one was nuts, and the other was gluten free, wheat free and nut free.
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/1512615
Experience: Prior certification medication administration, I have used an epipen once in a pool setting, bee sting. I have worked with children with dairy. nut and strawberry, tomato allergies.
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/1370417
Experience: I have been trained on proper use of an Epi Pen by the Garden Grove Unified School District. I was also a 1 on 1 for a middle school student who had a severe peanut allergy.
UrbanSitter Profile: https://www.urbansitter.com/app/sitter/1375737