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Vegan Daycare/Preschool/Babysitter Dilemma

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I don't know what to do... this is kind of a two part question...
So, my 28 month old vegan son (w/ dairy and egg allergies) needs to be around other kids, he is home all day (mostly due to winter weather right now) and needs playmates. We tried the daycare at my husband's work... it was okay... they tried.  The director was very willing and caring but everyone who works there (they even have a school chef) is trained in "USDA food pyramid" system... I put down his egg and dairy allergies on the sign-in sheet each day when we came in, they consult the sign in sheet for allergies before making the kids their meals. So no one was giving him glass of milk or anything... but one day I picked him up to find him eating (well not 'eating' but poking at) tuna with mayonnaise!!! Hello EGG! It was my own fault about the tuna... I just assumed they wouldn't give him meat... because I wouldn't give my 2 year old meat even if I had omni kids... duh me... not everyone thinks that way. He only went a handful of times and hasn't been back since the mayo incident.
So that was our best daycare option... down the tubes. Other options are German kindergarten which we REALLY wanted our son to be in, but I am so worried about what they will feed him... or more what I can't get across for them to NOT feed him. I can't even think about that as an option right now. Anyhow, so I guess for the playmates thing a play group may be our only option for now?? ... look I answered my own question. Well it leads to the next question...

Babysitters, how do I get a sitter who is caring and understanding about his (and our) diet? Do I actually have to advertise for: "An occasional babysitter who is understanding and respectful of our 2 year old son's vegan diet."    They don't have to BE vegan or even veg! I just want someone who isn't going to try to giving him milk and cheese while I'm gone. *ahem* Grandma... Or someone who understands that mayonnaise has egg in it! At our home it will be easier since we don't actually keep those things in the house (rarely Daddy has some cheese) So maybe just someone who knows what being vegan means

Okay... so what do I say in the ad? And how to screen those applicants? Anyone have any advice? Experience? .... AcK!  :-\

If you can make it understood that it is a serious allergy, in my experience Germans are v. understanding and accomodating, tho you might be best to send his lunch/snacks with him...it's worth a try.

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If you can send your son to school w/ appropriate lunch and snacks and let the teachers know that your son can't have ANY outside food. This is the only way you know for sure that he won't get any of foods he has allergies to. If you have the time once a week or so you could prepare a snack for the whole class this way he doesn't feel like he is being left out.

I don't have kids but I understand the grandma thing. I have known for some time that if I did have kids they would never be allowed over at my dads and stepmothers unsupervised. This sounds horrible but one of their grandchildren lives w/ them and on numerous occasions I have seen her eat nothing but cookies and icecream all day. And then I get yelled at because the child is crying because I wont give her another cookie.  >:(

For babysitters do a preliminary inter view to make sure that they understand what you need. Maybe try advertising in a local healthy living paper. I'm not sure if you have something like that but it might be worth a try. Good luck!

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i was also going to suggest sending him in with food. is it possible to see the menus they have planned and send in "partial" meals, such as send him in a sandwich and he can eat the fruit and veggies they provide? with the mayo, it sounds like they just weren't thinking about what is in foods... i am not sure otherwise because, you're right, he needs to hang out with other kids but at the same time he can't be given foods he can't eat. are their other families in the area you can set up playdates with? although it isn't daycare per se he can still play with other kids and hopefully other parents will be understanding about his dietary needs.

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can't send any food... they don't allow outside food due to other children possibly having allergies, which i totally understand. IF it was done properly it would be a great rule.

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can't send any food... they don't allow outside food due to other children possibly having allergies, which i totally understand. IF it was done properly it would be a great rule.

wow, if that is the case i would be p.o.'ed if i was you. it is a great rule because of kids having allergies but, shesh, they still give your kid food he has an allergy to (mayo)? if you didn't already, you should talk to whoever is in charge of meals at that center because obviously the dietary allergies are not being managed properly. it would be tragic if some poor kid with a deathly allergy to something had a reaction because someone "didn't know" it was an ingredient in something, as seems was the case with the mayo/egg. seems your son is smart enough to "poke at" foods he isn't sure about (that is at least how i understand the poking, at least i know many kids won't eat stuff that is unfamiliar to them).

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Yeah the daycare thing stinks... and yeah I am P.O.ed about it... I guess I thought I'd try other things instead of going there and being difficult and trying to 'fight' their set mental ideas of what is OK. Also, I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite because we aren't that strict at home... like I said my husband gets organic cheese about once every 2-3 months. But in those cases we have chosen the lesser of many evils and scrutinized the labels... (which I am sure wasn't happening at daycare)  I know this sounds ridiculously superficial, but i guess i just don't want to fight "the vegan fight" for our family and have someone see me at the grocery store buying cheese and have to deal with that. I know, simple answer, don't buy the cheese.  ;) As many of you know, we're vegans for primarily for health reasons. There are other ingredients that I prefer my son is not exposed to: white flour, MSG etc.  Honestly, I do feel like I am "being difficult" in trying to make the daycare change, when I have the option to just not go there. Right? *sigh*

I think I am going to place two ads in our community newspaper.
One for a sitter who is familiar with a vegan diet or willing to learn. And the other for a veg play group.
I still don't know how to word it though so that I'm not being exclusive of people. I don't want to make it seem like it's a play group for veg families only. I am all for veg-friendly people! They can eat meat as long as they don't roll their eyes at the idea that we don't... and I won't try to convert them, i promise.
I don't know...  I love Germany, but the Americans around here that we interact with are just the most UN-health oriented, BBQ having, twinkie eating, soda guzzling, pork-rind chewing people... someone my husband works with thought "organic" meant "bad".... UGH... and even if they are "healthy families" most drink milk and have no idea what flax is, for example. It makes me want to run back to CA and raise my child where when I ask a waiter what fat the veggies where sauteed in he knows right away and doesn't look at me funny, because the family two tables over just asked him the same question and people ask him that same question everyday. *sigh* I don't want to be a vegan hermit but I feel like I almost have to.  :'(

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Why don't you word it something like, "interested in a healthy diet" -you might find more like-minded people that way. There is a veg play group where I live, some vegan, some not, some just interested. If you get calls, you can explain that you want to hang with families that don't feed their kids soda and chips all day, and of course mention your diet too. To me, that is more important than finding VEG.. families.  You may not necessarily have anything else in common with strictly VEG families. Broaden the category I guess, and who knows, you might ignite something in the ones who are seeking to be healthier to become VEG!

Also, for a babysitter, I would put "knowledgable about healthy diet/nutrition" or something like that-like you said, if its at your house, she/he will be just feeding the kids your food anyway. Make her/him understand NOT to bring outside food, or reward the kids with sweets, etc.....you can screen them by asking them if they know what "vegan" means?!

I got lucky. A new girl started at my last place of employment and said, "hi, I'm Karen, I'm vegan, and I babysit"!

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Wow little2ant! That is exactly what I meant but couldn't articulate! :) Thank you!
A play group of "health conscious" families sounds perfect and doesn't exclude people who want to try, or are at different places. I love it.
I think I'll place the ad tonight!  :D

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Just a thought, but maybe posting flyers for needed vegan-friendly babysitters in local health food stores might help? I know a couple of the HFS around me have a bulletin board in the front of the store where they let people post stuff.

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Awesome idea janeyboo!! When we're back in the US I'll do that!
But we don't have any HFS around here... I have to buy pretty much everything from Nut. yeast to raw cashews online :(

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I'm a little late getting in on this one, but I have been having a similar issue with my little boy. So, finally someone just asked me the billion dollar question. . ."Could you please just give us a list of what he can have?"

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Not sure what you decided to do, but I would definitely try the German school again.  Is he there all day, or does he get out after lunch?  They don't even eat that much while they are there and you could feed him again when you picked him up if it were an early day.  Maybe they would let you bring in food from the outside if you brought it in with the original packaging so they could check it out themselves.

As for the babysitter thing, pretty much everyone who is looking for a job will respond regardless of whether they meet your requirements or not.  For us, nonsmoker, legal and not allergic to cats were the biggies that we mentioned in our ad and yet we got a lot of people who did not fit the bill at all.  A good babysitter whom you would trust your child with will follow whatever your wishes are with respect to the diet.

Good luck with the playgroup.  I'd be interested in hearing what your experience is.

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i am an american living in sweden, and i was an exchange student to germany in  high school.  i can tell you that in my opinion, you will have success in the german daycare. 

in europe, (generally speaking of course), vegetarianism and veganism are more prevalent, more accepted and more respected.  i think europeans are more well-versed on what it actually means to be vegetarian or vegan (and what the difference is!!) and more likely to know which products would be off-limits.  in the public schools, there is a vegetarian alternative every single day for lunch. 

i think some of this higher awareness comes from the (again, generally speaking) more naturopathic approach to medicine, which looks for allergies or "sensitivities" to specific foods as cause for many childhood illnesses like ear infections and even hyperactivity. 

if it were me, i would try the german daycare, but you definitely can't go wrong with a veg-friendly playgroup!!

fiona

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