When my son was diagnosed, one of the first nut allergy challenges we faced was the mums and tots groups minefield. Food perils lurked everywhere. Every playgroup we tried out served snacks (usually biscuits or toast), many children bought in food from home, boxes of cupcakes appeared on birthdays and, on one occasion, we turned up to trestle tables set up for a surprise end of term party tea. A lovely treat for the majority, ulcer inducing for the food allergy mum.
My stress levels reduced slightly as D moved on from the pick-up-anything-off-the-floor-and-stick-it-in-his-mouth stage, and I got to know the playgroup organisers and fill in the other mums on our recent experience of anaphylaxis.
Over the next couple of years, I’m guessing we’ll have new challenges to navigate with things like football and Beaver Scouts. But which out-of-school kids’ groups are allergy friendly?
As ever, there seems to be a wide spectrum of standards. Back in May, I was dismayed to read in the Western Gazette that Curtis Johnson (aged 14) had been banned from Cadet camps because of his nut allergy (see Somerset schoolboy banned from Army Cadet camps because of peanut allergy). However, Allergy UK reported that Brownies are Allergy Aware, so fingers crossed the boys’ scouting organisations are similarly clued up.
Directory of nut allergy friendly groups and clubs
A fellow nut mum then had the excellent idea of starting an online directory for nut allergy friendly kids clubs.
If you go to a playgroup or your children attend a club that inspires confidence in the way it cares for allergic children, please do post a comment below with the details. Once we have a few areas of the country covered, I will set up a searchable directory (along the same lines as the restaurant directory).
To get the ball rolling, here are the details of two of our regular playgroup haunts:
Prestbury Mums and Tots
- Prestbury Village Hall, Macclesfield Road, Prestbury, SK10 4BW
- 9.30-11.00 AM Mondays and Fridays (during term time)
Buttered toast and juice is provided for the children, plus tea or coffee for the parents. Two years on and the ladies behind the counter are well used to me scouring the ingredients lists at the start of each session for nutty ingredients and “may contain” warnings!
The Christmas parties usually take place on the final Monday and Friday before Christmas. All the mums bring in food for the children to share. For the last two years, I’ve made sure D sits at the end of the table and have brought in a selection of party food for him.
From September, I will be one of the organisers on a Monday – so do say hi if you stop by!
St Michael’s Church toddler group
- St Michael’s Church, Market Place, Macclesfield, SK10 1HW
- 10.00-11.00AM Thursdays (during term time)
Toys are set out in a gated off area around the altar. After half an hour, everyone goes into a side room for nursery rhymes and snacks (Rich Tea biscuits and juice or water for the children, tea and coffee for the adults). The biscuits are kept in a barrel jar. For the last two years that we’ve been going they’ve always served only McVities Rich Tea. One of the organisers previously worked in a school and looked after the allergic pupils’ EpiPens – so they understand the potential severity and the need to check the ingredients.
Word of warning: they often have end of term parties, involving food.
The toddler group is re-run on Thursday afternoons too (I haven’t been to the afternoon session yet).
So … which nut allergy friendly playgroups and kids’ clubs have you discovered?