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Published on November 23, 2016

Caring for a Child with Diabetes

Child's diabetes pumpFor a child, a diabetes diagnosis can be scary. It may involve diet and exercise changes, even medications and injections.

As a parent of a diabetic child, you may feel pressure to help make their life as normal as possible … but there is help.

It’s important to remember that diabetes does not have to limit your child – you can find a “new normal” together. Your diabetes specialist can arm you with information and equipment to manage your child’s blood glucose levels in a way that works best for him or her.

Don’t focus on managing life around diabetes – focus on managing diabetes around your child’s life. They can play and have sweet treats as long as blood glucose levels are checked often and you are aware of what their reactions may be.

At, you’ll find resources such as mentors and online forums where you can share your experiences and learn tactics for improving life with diabetes. You can also order tool kits for each diabetes type and age group.

 “JDRF has a variety of resources to help a family when they are diagnosed with this life-changing disease,” said AnnElise Walsh, executive director of JDRF Eastern Iowa. “Perhaps the most important resource is our network of other families who are walking the same road. Coming together with other people to make change and find hope is the greatest thing our chapter can offer.”

In addition to these events, some kids also benefit from “diabetes camps” where they can spend time with other children experiencing the same things, and parents can rest easy knowing medical staff is on hand.

In the high school and college years, it’s essential to help your teenager understand the importance of controlling his or her own blood glucose levels and making smart choices when you aren’t around. Develop a transition plan (for example, find a new doctor wherever he or she goes to college) and reiterate the healthy habits that will allow him or her to manage diabetes on his or her own.

Remember, no one is perfect. But with patience and perseverance, you and your child can establish a lifestyle that includes – but doesn’t revolve around – managing diabetes.

If you need to establish care with a local diabetes expert, contact the offices of Mercy nurse practitioners Wendy Sanders, ARNP, at the MercyCare Diabetes Center (319-398-6711), or Sara Goslin Neff, ARNP, at Mercy Pediatric Clinic (319-861-7900).

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