Has Your Young Child Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease? Questions to Ask Preschools

Posted on: 20 April 2016

Parenting a young child who has celiac disease can definitely be challenging, and trying to keep your child from eating anything containing gluten can bring out the ninja in you. You probably never imagined before how quickly you could move your arms to clear away seemingly harmless food before your child could put it in their mouth. This is just one concern that many parents like you have when it comes time to send their children to preschool—will the teachers be as vigilant as you if your child could accidentally be exposed to gluten? If your child has celiac disease, don't let the diagnosis keep him or her from attending preschool. Here are three questions to ask before you enroll your little one.

1. How will you keep my child safe when serving snacks and meals?

Obviously, the snacks and meals that your child will be given will have to be gluten-free. It's a good idea to personally provide foods for your child, especially if the preschool does not have a gluten-free kitchen. However, you should also ask if the preschool will provide a safe eating area for your child. The table should be cleaned of all crumbs before your child sits down.

Other children who sit with your child should be taught to not share their food with your child. Also, your child should be taught not to accept food from other children. Ask the staff if they will keep a watchful eye on your child, at least in the beginning while he or she gets accustomed to eating beside other children.

2. Do you celebrate special occasions with baked goods?

Children love having and celebrating birthdays. Ask the preschool if they celebrate each birthday with baked goods. Often, parents like to take cupcakes and other goodies into their children's classrooms for mini birthday parties. Due to the issues with food allergies and gluten intolerance health concerns, some schools are opting to no longer allow these types of celebrations.

However, if the preschool does allow baked goods and homemade goodies, your child can still participate in the celebration. Simply ask the staff to notify you in advance of any birthday celebrations and other mini parties so you can send in a gluten-free cupcake or treat so your child won't feel left out while others are eating cake.

3. Are your craft supplies gluten-free?

Gluten can also be found in craft supplies. While your child isn't likely to purposefully eat craft supplies, there is always the risk of gluten protein getting into their mouth, because children aren't the most careful. Therefore, ask the preschool if their craft supplies are gluten-free.

Molding compounds, crayons, and finger paint are popular items in preschools, but some of these items may contain gluten. There are options available on the market that are gluten-free. Ask the preschool to consider purchasing gluten-free molding compounds and art products instead or purchase gluten-free sets for your child so he or she can join in on the fun when these materials are on the agenda.

Flour should never be used as a crafting material, such as when making paper mache glue. The reason for this is because it is possible to inhale gluten. Ask the preschool if they plan on having the children make crafts using homemade paper mache glue. If they do, ask them to purchase a gluten-free art paste instead of making a flour and water paste.

Speak with your child's pediatrician and gastroenterologist for more information and advice about what to ask preschools when interviewing for enrollment. Start looking for preschools through a website like http://www.kidscountry.net.

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