Every parent has to get used to leaving their child in someone else’s care – whether that’s a childminder or nursery, their school, a friend or relative or an after-school club like Scouts or Brownies.
If your child has asthma or suspected asthma, this can be especially nerve-wracking.
Parents of children with asthma or suspected asthma tell us that they worry about other people:
- Knowing very little about asthma, especially how to use their child’s asthma inhalers correctly
- Leaving their child out of activities because they’re worried about them having an asthma attack
- Not wanting to take on the responsibility of looking after their child.
When you’re leaving your child with other people, it’s important to let them know that your child has asthma or suspected asthma, and how to deal with it.
Top tips for explaining your child’s asthma
Before you leave your child with someone new, take some time to explain what they need to know: for example, you might want to ask a new babysitter to get together with you beforehand, or arrive at a birthday party a bit early to give the parents the lowdown.
- Use your child’s written asthma action plan to help them understand things like your child’s triggers and what to do in an emergency. You could email it to them, or give them a paper copy.
- Talk them through your child’s medicines and explain how to use their inhaler and spacer, if they use one, or show them one of our inhaler videos.
- Explain the signs that your child is having an asthma attack, and what to do if this happens. Make sure whoever is caring for a child knows when to call an ambulance, and ask them to phone you straight away once the ambulance has been called.
- Ask any carers to let you know if they have noticed symptoms or if your child had to use their blue reliever inhaler.
- Make sure your child isn’t around smokers, as smoking is a major asthma trigger. You can also let the other person know about your child’s other triggers, such as pets or pollen, so they can try to avoid them.
- Tell the carer if there’s anything new they should know about: for example, if they’ve got a cold, have had a bad night because of their asthma, or are on new medication – if their medication changes, make sure you update their written asthma action plan.
- Leave your contact numbers so the carer can ring you if they’re unsure about anything, or if they’re concerned about your child.
“When George and Lena were little and we’d leave them with my parents, I used to write everything down on a piece of paper for them – especially all the details of their medicines and what to take when.” – Jayne Bettles, who has two children with asthma: George, 14, and Lena, 12.
Make sure your child understands how important it is to tell their carer if they don’t feel well.
Older children sometimes feel embarrassed about speaking up, especially in front of friends, so explain that their asthma symptoms are nothing to be ashamed of.
If your child:
- Is coughing or wheezing
- Feels like they can’t breathe properly
- Has a tight feeling in their chest
- Has trouble speaking in short sentences
They need to:
- Stop what they’re doing
- Tell someone who can help
- Take their blue reliever inhaler.
“I sometimes feel guilty leaving the girls in other people’s care, even if it’s with my wife’s mum and dad, who are brilliant. In the early days, we’d write everything down, and now we hand over their written asthma action plans. We know they’re on the ball, and if they’re not sure about something, they’ll phone us.” – Scott Brain, dad to Emelia, 8, and Elicia, 3, who both have asthma.
Your child shouldn’t be left out of trips or activities because of their asthma, but letting them go can be worrying for you as a parent.
As well as following our advice above about explaining your child’s asthma to their teacher, friend’s parent or group leader, try these tips to help you feel reassured:
- Use a diary or the calendar on your phone to keep track of upcoming playdates or outings.
- Write a checklist of the key points for carers, so if there are any last-minute playdates or outings, you know what to tell people – your child’s written asthma action plan can help with this.
- Have a bag packed ready with your child’s ‘asthma kit’: reliever, preventer, spacer, written asthma action plan and emergency contact numbers. Don’t forget any other medicines your child might be taking, such as hay fever medicines.
It’s sometimes tricky to work out whether your child is well enough to go to nursery, their childminder or school.
These decisions will be easier if you’ve built up a good relationship with your child’s carers and are confident that they understand your child’s asthma, know how and when to use their inhalers, and know how to contact you if they need to.
If you feel your child is too unwell to be left, take them to see their GP or asthma nurse. They can support you in getting your child’s asthma back on track.
See more advice from Asthma UK about keeping your child well at school and nursery.
Last updated August 2019
Next review due August 2022