This article is meant as a guide only. You should always follow all rules and regulations your center and local or government regulating agencies set forth. 

Child allergies range from mild to life-threatening, and sometimes, a child’s reaction can change or become more severe over time. Therefore, teachers and child care centers must follow strict safety protocols concerning child allergies. 

Identifying Allergies

Most child care centers and preschools have medical forms and intake documentation asking if a child has any known allergies. Read these forms carefully at the beginning of the school year or when a new child is enrolled. Make a note of any child with a documented allergy. You should list who the child is and what they are allergic to. 

Allergy forms should also have the expected reaction, for example, “Child breaks out in hives and has difficulty breathing,” and it should include an Allergy Action Plan. 

  • Reach out to the school nurse
  • Call local emergency medical services
  • Lay child flat and raise their legs
  • Alert emergency family contacts
  • Administer allergy medication listed by parent

Each child’s Allergy Action Play will be different, so it is vital to have a detailed plan for each child with an allergy in your classroom. In addition, these documents need to be in an accessible but private location.

Follow Up

Follow up with parents by confirming the child’s allergy, reaction, and action plan. Parents and paediatricians should update action plans annually to ensure accuracy. Ask parents of children with NO listed allergy if that is true. 

Some children grow out of allergies, and some develop new ones, and parents often forget to update schools and teachers on changes, so it is always a good idea to confirm that documents are accurate.

Know the Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Knowing the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction could save a child’s life.

  • Hives
  • Flushed skin or rash 
  • Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth or face
  • Tongue or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Dizziness and/or light headedness
  • Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure

Classroom Policies

The most common allergy for children is food allergies, and the most common is an allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. Some schools have a strict Nut-Free policy while others have “nut-free” tables or eating areas.

Because allergies are a medical issue and private, maintain a list of all children and their allergies in an accessible, out view spot—for example, a teacher binder or affixed inside a classroom cabinet. If you sub in a classroom or have someone assisting or subbing in yours, make sure they know where the list is and that they read it. 

If your center provides snacks, ask parents if they would like to bring approved and safe snacks to keep on hand in the classroom. Parents can also provide a list of snacks on the center’s snack list that are safe for their child. 

Never feed a child food that their parents have not approved. Call and speak with them if a child has run out of snacks or they forgot their lunch. Many foods have hidden ingredients, trace amounts of allergens, or may have come in contact with an allergen. 

For special events like birthdays and holiday celebrations, check with parents before serving any treats brought in from outside the center. 

Tables and eating surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized before and after each meal and snack time. 

A teacher should always sit near a child with an allergy to ensure they don’t share food with their friends or take food off another child’s plate. Talk to the children about not sharing food because of allergies and germs. Impress the importance that NOT sharing in this instance keeps us all healthy!