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TawnyaK

Day Cares - 2 Year Old - Newly Diagnosed

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Hello, everyone!

I'm interested in hearing what others have done to educate and prepare the daycare for a 2 year old child with celiac disease. My husband and I are in the process of finalizing our adoption of our daughter. Finalization will be November 15th. Gotcha day was June 6th evening at the orphanage in India. I'm on FMLA and will be returning back to work in October. We will be sending our child to daycare after having been home with her for four months. A month ago, she was tested and had a biopsy that confirmed that she has celiac disease. As a result, we are in the process of transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle.

If you have any suggestions for us with regards to educating the daycare staff, please post them. We are particularly looking for daycare facility/teacher handouts, but do not want any that reference other dietary issues and/or ADHD/behavioral issues as these do not apply to our daughter. She has celiac disease only.

If you have any ideas on snacks and lunch menus for a two year old, that would be helpful. We will need to provide these for the daycare. The current menu at the daycare for three weeks include the following gluten items: cheerios, cheese pasta with marinara, graham crackers, bagel, hamburger on a bun, fig newton, whole grain bread, chili and beans, corn bread, soft pretzel, apple pancakes, chicken strips, whole grain cracker, string cheese, blueberry muffin, chicken enchilada casserole, granola bar, turkey hot dogs, marinara sauce, chicken nuggets, zucchini bread, bread sticks with marinara sauce, cheese pizza, cheese crackers, English muffin with jelly, beef stew with carrots and potatoes, granola bars, turkey tortilla, cheese wrap, wheat crackers, golden grahams, chex mix, bean and cheese burritos with salsa, and sugar cookies. If you have ideas on substitutions and where to obtain them, that would be helpful. We will be sending all of her foods and snacks to the daycare; however, we'd like for her to eat similar items, just gluten-free.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

Tawnya K.

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Congratulations on your new daughter!

Many of the items you listed are readily available in gluten free format at health food stores. These would include cereals, crackers, pastas, some cookies, etc. You may need to make some of your own at home. Search the board for recipes and you should find lots. Would they be willing to serve just Rice Chex (certified gluten free) instead of Chex Mix?

Most hot dogs are gluten free anyway. The bun may be a problem.

Dinty Moore beef stew is gluten free and would make a great substitute.

There are several other MAJOR problems that I see ahead.

1) Getting the staff to understand that they absolutely *CANNOT* handle gluten food - or anything or anyone it may have touched - and then touch your daughter or her food without thoroughly washing their hands. Use the dog poop analogy. If gluten were dog poop, has it been sufficiently cleaned off? You may need to educate the staff about what items are made of wheat. Far too many people are clueless. The whole gluten free concept is difficult to grasp at first and it may take them a bit to wrap their heads around it.

2) You will *NEVER* get a 2-year old to understand about the touching and the hand washing and they put their hands on everything and then put their hands in their mouths. They also like share as well as to hug and kiss each other on occasion. Cute but not when they have been snacking on cookies and crackers.

3) You may need to provide enough play-dough equivalent for the whole day care center as it gets into everything including under fingernails and from their into mouths.

I'm sure others will be along with links and suggestions. In the meantime, browse through the parents section and you will find a lot of information.

Welcome to the forum!

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This could be very difficult in a traditional day care center type environment. I worked in the field for over a decade, and the staff ignorance and turnover could make keeping your daughter gluten-free very difficult. Make sure that you provide all her diet, not just the gluten replacement items. The staff knowing they only feed her 'your' food will help. Also, offer to provide gluten-free play dough and other art supplies that are contaminated (pasta). Check your daycare, do they eat in the room they're in all day? If so, everything in the class is going to be contaminated? Do other parents send their darlings in with donuts and pop tarts in the morning, because they 'didn't have time to eat' Our center had to begin a strict no peanut policy, and one class, that had a child with egg, milk, and peanut issues had to instate a 'no outside food' policy. And even then I had to shout to stop an assistant teacher from kissing an allergic child just after eating 'people puppy chow'. She didn't even realize that her snack, brought from home, had peanuts, and would cause the baby to get VERY sick. I know that there are caring, concerned caregivers who will do everything in their power to keep your child healthy and happy, but at the same time, I know center based care from the inside, and it's going to be really easy for the staff to gluten your girl unknowingly. The child with multiple allergies I spoke of, I had to stop a teacher from giving her taco meat, as the teacher didn't know that it had milk powder in the spice packet. And milk is easy compared to gluten, since it had to be labeled as milk, and not 'natural flavors.' Also, as advice, offer to make the center a poster with your daughter's name, a photo, her status as a celiac, and the fact that she can only eat the food you provide. This will help everyone remember that she can't be given that candy, even though it's Halloween, and she looks like she wants it. Sorry that this is a rant, and not encouraging, but you might need to look for a very small center, or a home based caregiver, in order to keep your child gluten-free. Meanwhile, congratulations on expanding your family, and good luck!

...If you have any suggestions for us with regards to educating the daycare staff, please post them. We are particularly looking for daycare facility/teacher handouts, but do not want any that reference other dietary issues and/or ADHD/behavioral issues as these do not apply to our daughter. She has celiac disease only.

If you have any ideas on snacks and lunch menus for a two year old, that would be helpful. We will need to provide these for the daycare. The current menu at the daycare for three weeks include the following gluten items: cheerios, cheese pasta with marinara, graham crackers, bagel, hamburger on a bun, fig newton, whole grain bread, chili and beans, corn bread, soft pretzel, apple pancakes, chicken strips, whole grain cracker, string cheese, blueberry muffin, chicken enchilada casserole, granola bar, turkey hot dogs, marinara sauce, chicken nuggets, zucchini bread, bread sticks with marinara sauce, cheese pizza, cheese crackers, English muffin with jelly, beef stew with carrots and potatoes, granola bars, turkey tortilla, cheese wrap, wheat crackers, golden grahams, chex mix, bean and cheese burritos with salsa, and sugar cookies. If you have ideas on substitutions and where to obtain them, that would be helpful. We will be sending all of her foods and snacks to the daycare; however, we'd like for her to eat similar items, just gluten-free.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

Tawnya K.

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Oh Im curious what others say since my 21 month old was jsut diagnosed with Cleiac and will be starting some sort of daycare in Jan. I have been soo stressed over this and am holding off on any search because of my nervousness.

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When DD was diagnosed (at age 2.5), I met with her daycare/preschool director, teachers, and lunch woman/chef. I gave them lists of common things she can and can't have and explained the importance of preventing cross contamination. We decided it would be best for me to send in all meals and snacks, except for plain fruit/veggies that they served. We also keep extra snacks in her cubby. When DD switched into the 3 yr old room with a new teacher a few weeks ago, I scheduled a meeting with the teacher. I gave her a letter to keep as a reference and reviewed the letter with her; I also attached lists of common foods that are ok and ones to avoid as well as a handout for teachers of celiac children (I'll try to locate the link and will post it i I find it). Her teacher (and the school in general) is very receptive to our requests and questions about our DD's food restrictions and safety, so I feel comfortable with her in that setting. The teacher has DD sit in the same seat for every meal/snack to help reduce cc. They serve meals family style in that room and the teacher said DD has never once reached for anything with gluten. From day 1 of diagnosis we've told her what food makes her belly hurt, and what food makes her belly feel good (she of course doesn't know all of them but she is learning), so she seems to know to ask before just eating something.

Here is a template of the letter:

"Hi Miss _________,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us to discuss our daughter, ________, and how best to keep her safe at _______.

______ has celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten (anything containing wheat, barley, rye, or oats). Although _______ might not have immediate symptoms, even tiny crumbs of gluten can cause weight loss and damage to her small intestine, and increase her risk of developing cancer in the future. Fortunately, all of this can be avoided by eliminating gluten completely.

Common foods with obvious gluten include pasta, bread, pretzels, crackers, waffles, muffins, and cake. Gluten can also be found in some deli meats, candy, ice creams, juices, and other foods, as well as art supplies, such as playdoh and paper mache.

-_______'s parents will provide her main meals and snacks other than plain fruits, vegetables

-Please clean _______

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Hello

Try this web site for letters to the principal, teacher, lunch staff. I just copy it into a Word document and make any changes such as other allergies. I also got rid of the acronoms and inserted "gluten".

http://www.csaceliacs.org/isearch/index.php?s=school

If you are bringing food for your child, then maybe also a "treat box" for those times when candy is being given out.

I keep gluten free muffins in the freezor for when birthday cakes are brought in.

We have not yet tackeled the playdough issue yet. My son is not yet 2 and I'm sure he finds things on the floor and they go straight in his mouth. You can worry yourself sick about accidental gluten ingestion. Just do your best to be prepared and teach the staff what is most important. Goodluck.

Barb

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I'm going to rave about my daycare. I selected an intergrated daycare, it's through UCP, United Cerebral Palsy, and it is designed for special needs kids, but take other kids from the community as well. The have children with Autism, so my gluten free diet kid was nothing new for them, the Autistic community around here has embraced the gluten free diet. They understand my DD"s diet and understand the difference between her and the Autistic kids in that is she get's gluten, it damages her insides.

They have been AWESOME. My daughter is safe there. That being said, I only let her have food from home. I pack 100% of her daily intake. They have a "safe" list of foods posted so that in a pinch, if she is hungry and I didn't pack enough they know some safe options.

I think I will continue through school with lunches from home. I work in school. I don't see ANY way around cross contamination issues.

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I was a day care provider of a child with MANY food allergies, including celiac. (good for you, for loving a celiac sufferer, and way good of you, for preparing now to love her!!!)

My suggestion from the teacher stand point is:

i hope you find a daycare with low ratios... even though the state may allow 6 children to one teacher, 6 kids is a lot to look after at meal time, and kids DO share foods!

+be clear, and seriously concise. (the mother i dealt with was rather wish washy!)

+supply her foods, and don't be afraid to share her snacks with the class. we had special days (fridays) where the parents would supply snack, well, this mom... made it her job to always supply the snacks. this introduced other parents to her way of living, and the food was GOOD!

+make sure the providers understand the severity... (life/death, diarrhea, severe bloating.) make sure they understand that this is not an allergy, where a little exposure is ok. it should never be ok for her to have ANY gluten.

+also, make sure that the staff posts her allergies (this is actually a law) and make sure that the entire staff, whether they are her teacher or not, knows her disease. (you never know when another teacher is going to be in her room)provide a concise list of things that they serve that she can NOT have. this will be an easy guide. (when she is there long enough this will become habit!)

this is a lot. but these are things you may not realize. I don't want to scare you... but i have worked in a day care where a teacher covering a break fed a child with SEVERE allergies to gluten goldfish cheddar crackers, because they were "cheddar" she thought they were ok... (we are not all smart!)

i hope you find this helpful, and good luck...

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