Skip to content

First published Wednesday 10 June 2020.

Harper keeps mum on toes

Cassandra Cooper knows all too well the challenges of caring for a toddler with type 1 diabetes.

Her daughter Harper Spark, now aged three-and-a-half, was diagnosed with diabetes when she 16 months old – an extremely difficult age behaviour and communications wise, without even throwing diabetes into the mix.

“The hardest part is carb counting and controlling what Harper is eating,” Cassandra said.

“Harper is very fussy with foods and there will be torrential screaming if she wants to eat something right then and there. There’s just no way of communicating to her that her blood sugars will go up if she eats that now – she just doesn’t understand.”

Harper is on multiple daily injections and continuous glucose monitoring.

Cassandra said insulin administration was fine in the early days of Harper’s diagnosis but then she built up a strong hatred for injections that lasted about a year.

“Every time it came time for an injection she would run away, scream or hide under the table,” she said.

“She was always screaming ‘no insulin’ and that was heartbreaking. Thankfully, she’s better now.”

Cassandra said she carried most of the load when it came to Harper’s diabetes management.

“It really does feel like I’ve had a baby for the past three years,” she said.

Cassandra’s biggest tips to parents of a toddler with diabetes was to take it one day at a time.

“I kept looking ahead to Harper’s future in the early days of her diagnosis and it really burnt me out,” she said. “Now I take every day as it comes. This has made a huge difference.”

She also recommended parents take some time out of every day to focus on themselves.

Be involved: Toddler group

PCH's Diabetes Clinic is currently working to improve services and resources for families with toddlers. We would like to invite parents of toddlers to be part of this group to ensure we are meeting the needs of our type 1 families.

How you can be involved?

1. The first aim of the group is to survey parents of all toddlers in the clinic to enable us to understand their needs and identify any gaps in the current care they are receiving in regards to resources, education materials, interactions with their clinical team etc. We would like a couple of parents to review this survey and provide feedback which can be done via email.

2. We would like to partner with parents to develop resources for nutrition, managing pumps, sick day management etc. This can be done at home by email, phone or virtual video meetings.

3. The final aim is to coordinate parent sessions, mentors and get-togethers. This will be done in consultation with parents.

No special skills are required and you can choose to be involved in some or all of the aims.

To register your interest, please email