Having a Gluten Free Preschooler
When my Son started preschool it gave me anxiety. One of the first questions I would ask the teacher’s I interviewed is what food allergies they have dealt with and how they went about dealing with them. No one I interviewed had dealt with gluten. Peanuts and milk were the main allergies most of them had seen. Of course, I offered to always supply his snacks to just make sure that he would be safe.
|His preschool graduation! Wow, that went fast!!|
One of the things I always worried about was him feeling left out from the other snacks. His teacher would like to hand out a small candy treat such as a skittle or m&m for answering correctly. I offered a chocolate chip suggestion (we are also dye free for behavioral and other reasons). She liked my idea and started to use that.
I am blessed enough, that she started going clean herself and looking into food preservatives and unnecissary ingredients and not wanting the kids to eat them. She now provides his snacks, but in the beginning every month I would supply her with his snacks.
At first I made a snack bag with various items. This included dry cereal, Annies crackers, any GF cracker we had on hand, GF cookies, fruit snacks, pirates booty, and pretzels. After she got comfortable with his safe foods she began to provide the safe foods for him. I know, not all teachers are this amazing and I am so greatfull for her!! I would also like to add that it is a small in-home preschool. She converted her garage into a classroom and there are usually less than 10 students in attendance and her Mom, “Nana” is also a teacher. It is a family style vibe and the children are loved and cared for but expected to follow the rules. She teaches exactly how I parent, and it is perfect.
If your school isn’t willing to purchase the snacks some of the things I would reccomend having on hand would be: Pirates Booty, GF Pretzels, GF Annie’s Bunny Cookies, Fruit Snacks, Fruit Strips, Honest or organic juice boxes, GF Crackers and maybe some dry cereals that your kids enjoy. Usually all fruits and veggies that are provided are safe.
How about dealing with all of the other treats that might come along?
My teacher is so amazing that she lets me know in advance of birthdays or celebrations so that I can plan ahead and bring his food. If someone brings something with no warning she texts me immediatly and I spring into action. I do my best to bring something similar to what the other kids are having. If I can not provide the exact same thing I do try to have a few extra’s of whatever my son is having just in case the other kids see his treat and “want what he has”. I don’t want him to feel let out or outcasted, so we love to share.
Trader Joe’s sells a 4 pack of cupcakes for $3.99! I try to always keep these in the freezer to pull out for a birthday. When there is a school party and the teacher has sign ups for the food I try to sign up for the glutenous item or whatever item would be his favorite and I know it is what he will choose. If frozen pizzas are on the list I have often made enough mini pizzas for the entire class. If cupcakes are on the list- I sign up for them.
Accidents can happen, no one is perfect but educating your teacher and your child are key to making this an easy transition. My Son never accepts something for anyone unless he is told it is gluten free or I am offering it to him. He automatically says, “I can’t have that, it will make me sick.” He also thinks that others can’t eat gluten free because it will make them sick. He is only 4 so he will get it eventually. He also role plays with food and toys and gluten free is always a topic of conversation. It is really cute. It is also a good way to practice with them about being gluten free and others offering them glutenous food.
Update- Once we moved from California to Washington state we were not as lucky. At his summer camp he decided to partake in the regular snacks. It got by the aid who was passing them out and this went on for almost 2 weeks. You read that post Here.
When he started kindergarten I also got a teacher that wasn’t incredibly familiar with gluten allergies. we dealt with cross contamination issues and she would feed him snacks labeled gluten free but not what I sent. That made me nervous as one of those snacks was cheerios and we can not eat them. I also wasn’t aware of birthday parties or special events, so bringing in a similar treat was close to impossible. I had some stored in the school freezer, but communication was an issue. I did have to finally e-mail the teacher and stress the severity. After that things got a little better, but kindergarten was not easy.
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