Toddlers, Childcare, and Gluten Risks

Sending your child off to daycare or preschool can bring a set of worries to any parent—but a parent of a child with celiac disease takes on a whole extra set of concerns. The Gluten Intolerance Group and Generation GF are here to help ease your worries and empower you with information. Below is a printable guide that covers hidden sources of gluten and cross-contact to share with your child’s caregiver.

Craft Supplies That Contain Wheat
(Unless otherwise stated on package)

Sunscreen
The nature of sunscreen is that it sticks to your skin – great for sun protection, not great if you apply a gluten-containing sunscreen to a gluten-free child. Sunscreen on hands and face can lead to ingestion. Parents should check the gluten-free status of their sunscreens, and childcare workers should apply sunscreen to gluten-free children before others.

Sharing
Learning to share is a key component of daycare and preschool fundamentals. However, kids this age won’t understand the limitations of a child with food allergies and celiac disease. It is vital that childcare workers ensure children don’t “feed” other kids their meals and snacks, or put their hands in a gluten-free child’s mouth or on their food.

What’s In Your Mouth?!
Every parent or childcare worker has probably said the above sentence at one time or another. While you are aware of choking hazards, be aware of objects (musical instruments, toys) that were in one child’s mouth (after eating a handful of crackers, maybe) and end up in the gluten-free child’s mouth. Same with snacks that have fallen on the ground.

Food Preparation
Daycare workers should preferably prepare gluten-free children’s snacks and meals before others, or at the very least change their gloves before touching the gluten-free child’s meal. Touching one child’s sandwich before a gluten-free child’s can be enough for cross-contact.

Toddler’s Limitations
It’s important to remember that adults who are in charge of children are their biggest advocates; toddler speech has variations and limitations, and many kids will not be able to properly articulate if they feel ill, and will not think twice about telling you about a leftover cracker they ate off the snack table. They are unaware, trusting, and cannot communicate when something may contain gluten, so always check with parents of gluten-free children instead of taking a risk.