My name is Christine Graham-Garo, and I am the newest addition to the Baby Health blog. I’m a nutrition specialist and I work with Sarah and Steven here at Nutricia North America.
A little about me - I grew up in Miami and received my Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University. Since then, I’ve worked in hospitals in Florida and in North Dakota (hubby was stationed there for the military). Just recently, the hubs and I settled into a cozy little place in Northern Virginia and I joined the nutrition team at Nutricia North America.
I am very excited to begin this blogging adventure and the time couldn’t be better – starting something new as summer winds down always makes me think of the excitement of back-to-school when I was growing up.
I know it’s hard to believe it’s that time of the year again, but traffic is beginning to pick up and the big yellow buses will soon fill the streets. It’s a busy time for any parent, but when your child has allergies, it can be more stressful than most. Anything from craft projects to birthday parties may cause concern!
Here are a few suggestions to help your child start the school year off right and to ease your mind as an allergy parent!
- Meet the Teacher Meet with your child’s teacher before the beginning of every school year – especially if he or she is new, but don’t forget the familiar faces as they’ll likely benefit from a refresher on your child’s condition. Make sure the teacher understands the condition and emergency procedures and ask about any activities or lessons he or she has planned that involve food. Offer to help find alternatives that everyone can enjoy (i.e. plastic beads instead of candies for counting exercises).
- Plan Ahead for Lunch If your child relies on formula like Neocate, make arrangements with the school to allow him or her to either spend lunchtime doing a quiet activity with the school nurse or secretary, or to bring a coloring/activity book in the lunchroom in place of food. If your little one is allergic to peanuts, talk to the school about a peanut-free lunch table.
- Talk to the other Parents Developing a good relationship with the other parents – especially those who help out around school – will go a long way. Explain your child’s condition and ask them to notify you when they bring in birthday treats so you can provide an allergen-free treat for your child or, if your child is on formula, a non-food treat like stickers or something to color.
- Introduce Yourself to the 504 Plan Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that children with special needs get a level playing field from government services like public school. Depending on the details of your child’s food allergy, he or she may qualify for a 504 plan for the school to follow. Check out this entry at Allergy Moms for more.
Along these lines, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has created a wonderful back-to-school checklist. Click here to see the checklist as well as to download a sample food allergy action plan. The checklists are divided up into three sections: asthma, allergens at school and food allergies at school. This is very helpful for those children with one or multiple allergies.
If you have any questions about me or about going back to school with food allergies, feel free to comment below. I’m looking forward to a new year of blogging!