When you think of a dietitian, you probably think of healthy eating and weight loss. But dietitians are trained to manage many more areas of health than that! Pediatric nutrition is a highly specialized field since infants and children are continuously growing and developing.
Furthermore, there are several diagnoses that are specific to infants and children which require unique nutritional management. Do you know what a pediatric dietitian can do for you and your family?
5 Things a Dietitian Can Do for You and Your Child (that you might not know):
- Help with breastfeeding. Dietitians who specialize in pediatric nutrition can seek specific training and education on breastfeeding. They can then educate parents on technique, what to expect, and how to seek continued support. For new parents, it is best to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before the baby is born, and a trained pediatric dietitian is a great resource. After the baby is born, the dietitian can continue to provide education, troubleshoot problems with breastfeeding, and perform frequent weights to ensure the baby is taking in enough volume to support expected growth. Dietitians can also help breastfeeding moms who may need to make changes to their diet if baby is showing signs of food allergy or intolerance to something in mom’s diet.
- Special nutrition care for preemies. Preemies have nutrition needs that are different from babies born full term. They also have different growth goals. Some preemies, especially those born before 32-34 weeks, may have difficulty with feeding. If they are not taking enough volume to support growth goals, a dietitian can help strategize to ensure the baby gets adequate nutrition. This support can also be helpful when the baby transitions to solids, as well as during the toddler years when kids tend to become more picky.
- Help uncover food allergies or food sensitivities. Food allergies and sensitivities are difficult to accurately test for, even with blood work. If your child has chronic symptoms without a clear cause, such as eczema, runny nose, ear infections, diaper rash, diarrhea or constipation, fussiness, or aversion to eating, a food allergy or sensitivity may be investigated. A dietitian can guide you through eliminating foods that might be causing symptoms, and also provide a nutritionally-complete diet plan.
- Provide nutrition care for digestive problems. Often, digestive issues can be improved by making diet changes. A dietitian can make nutrition recommendations to help with reflux, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and stomach aches. Dietitians are also trained to manage nutrition for GI disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac, IBS, and more.
- Manage nutrition for children with special healthcare needs. Pediatric dietitians are trained to provide proper nutrition for children with a wide variety of diagnoses in which nutrition, growth, and/or feeding are affected. Examples include Trisomy 21, cardiac defects, cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, trauma, chronic respiratory issues, tube feedings, and more.