3-5 Years

preschool years

This is a time of rapid growth and keen exploration which can bring about some challenges if your child has food allergies.

Following are some tips for managing situations and activities during these active years:

  • Special celebrations – double-check Christmas/Easter presents in case that little packet of “goodies” comes without an ingredient label.

  • Take time to relax - Arrange with your partner, friend or relative to take turns caring for your allergic child during social events. This will give you a chance to socialise and relax with friends and family, knowing that your young child is well cared for.

  • Out and about - Teach your child not to accept food of other people and to always check with mum or dad if food is available or offered. When out with your child, slip a note stating your mobile phone number in their backpack or. Have a medallion engraved with your mobile phone number on it. You could use a sticker to indicate they should not be given food because of food allergy. This also a safeguard if the child gets lost, or comes into contact with people who don’t know of his/her condition. (Often the first thing an adult will do to comfort a lost child is to offer him/her a lolly or ice cream etc.)

  • Parties - Keep suitable party cake slices or cupcakes individually wrapped and stored in the freezer. When the child is invited to a party, special occasion or school celebration you can choose a safe food from your freezer. Keep frozen, clearly labelled treats in freezer at preschool too in case of unexpected “special” occasions. for treats/birthdays.

  • Farm Visits and animals – Always check the contents of animal feed for allergens, especially if your child is hand-feeding animals (be aware that peanut has been found in cow feed and bird feed).

Starting Preschool or childcare

Starting childcare or preschool can be an anxious time for families who have children at risk of severe food allergies or anaphylaxis.  This may be the first time you’re leaving them in someone else’s care for an extended period.

Before starting preschool or childcare, ensure your child at risk of anaphylaxis always has an emergency medical kit, containing an adrenaline (epinephrine) injector (such as Anapen®, EpiPen®), other required medication and an individualised ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis.

When choosing a preschool for your child, investigate the possibility of your child being placed as a “special needs” child. Some preschools and kindergartens offer placements for children requiring “special care”.

pdfA guide to Starting Kinder or Preschool1.04 MB

When to start school?

Food allergy alone should not hold a child back from preschool or school for a year. However, the following may lead you to consider whether your child could benefit from another year at home.

Does your child:

take food from their peers ?

have a learning difficulty or significant other condition (eg. autism)?

have multiple food allergies?

lack maturity for their age?

We encourage you to discuss preschool and school entry with your specialist.

Review our Help Sheet  pdfStarting school with food allergies557.06 KB

Transition to school

 Content updated July 2021

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If you are having an allergic reaction follow advice on your ASCIA Action Plan.

If in doubt, give the Anapen® or EpiPen®.

Do not call us for emergency advice.

If you do not have an ASCIA Action Plan and/or an Anapen® or EpiPen® call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.