Prior to having my daughter (C), I worked four days a week and her big brother (D) went to nursery for three. My daughter (just like my son) had been resolutely breech and I was expecting to have another c-section with her. My grand plan had been to keep my son in nursery for three days a week for those first six weeks where you aren’t supposed to lift anything heavier than your newborn (i.e. such as toddlers) and then reduce this to one day a week for the rest of my maternity leave.
When C was three weeks old, D was off nursery with a chest infection. When she was four weeks old, D had the anaphylactic reaction to peanuts and was in hospital. By week six, D was showing no signs of having spent a week in hospital and was ready to be back in nursery.
I have to say that his nursery have been fantastic in how they have dealt with his allergy. We went to meet with the nursery manager and baby unit supervisor. They had compiled a comprehensive list of measures they would take to make nursery a safe environment for D. As well as the obvious stuff such as ensuring his meals are nut and (at the time) soya free, they had detailed measures which wouldn’t have occurred to us, such as stripping the staff vending machines of nut-containing snacks. They also installed buzzers in D’s room so that the appropriate EpiPen-trained first aiders could be summonsed, if he had an allergic reaction.
The specialist allergy nurse at the hospital also attended nursery to train the staff in how to spot the signs of an anaphylactic reaction and how to treat it.
The measures taken feel comprehensive. D is still at risk if, for example, a child comes into nursery with allergen-containing food in his coat pocket. However, my inclination is that the controlled environment of nursery is safer than, for example, a nanny taking him to a playgroup (where anyone can bring food containing nuts) or going to a childminder’s house which isn’t nut free. That maybe an unfair generalisation and I would love to know what other people think on this point.
Update (October 2013)
I’ve just discovered this Factsheet from the Anaphylaxis Campaign: Guidance about Anaphylaxis for Carers of Pre-School Children attending Early-Years Settings. Although it’s aimed at pre-school and nursery staff, it’s a very useful read for parents too.