For About and By Caregivers

Caring for a Child with Diabetes
By Michelle Reynolds


Children with diabetes are the same as any other children in the need for attention, guidance, and love, but they have special needs when it comes to controlling their diabetes. Diabetes comes in two forms with children almost always diagnosed with Type 1, known as insulin-dependent, requiring regular injections of insulin to regulate the sugar in the blood. There are three things that must be regulated in order to control diabetes. They are monitoring your child’s food and exercise, and supplying insulin in the appropriate dosage. There are a few methods that can control diabetes such as food, exercise, and insulin. Symptoms of diabetes include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and ketoacidosis, which is often considered a diabetic emergency. Treatments may differ, but with the right regimen, a parent’s care for a diabetic child is rewarding and no different from other children.

The Needs of Diabetic Children

  • Diet

  • Children are allowed to eat the same healthy, nutritious foods as other children, but secondary caregivers such as teachers, babysitters, and relatives should be knowledgeable of the child’s dietary needs.

  • Eating Habits Throughout the Day

  • Most children need snacks and fruits throughout the day at various times in order to balance out the blood sugar and to maintain its normal level.

  • Exercise

  • Diabetic children can be as active as any other child. But, because the child’s blood sugar can decrease during exercise, a snack such as a banana or orange may be needed to maintain normal blood sugar level.

Simple Instructions to Remember when Helping Children with Diabetes

  • Treat the child the same as any other child, and understand the precautions ahead of time before a given activity.

  • Establish a customary routine you and your child can adapt to and enjoy during the day.

  • Strive to set a pattern for eating throughout the day that you and your child can feel comfortable following.

  • Never feel as though it is the child’s fault for high or low blood sugar, rather stress the importance of health maintenance and proper action in case of emergency.

  • Watch the child’s behavior before meals and snacks.

  • Make sure meals are eaten on schedule.

  • Do not assign physical exercise just before a meal when the child may be in need of food.

  • Arrange an inconspicuous means of taking the mid-morning and/or afternoon snack.

  • Keep a source of sugar readily available, and encourage the child to carry some form of sugar.

  • Most children need a snack at night before bed.

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