When we become parents it seems to open the door to a whole new world of worry. A lot of these concerns relate to our child’s nutrition and growth. So, when and why do children see dietitians?
From the moment our baby is born, we are encouraged to monitor and track every facet of their beings from their bowels to their weight, developmental milestones and whether they are on track with every other baby their age.
As these babies grow into toddlers and exert their independence, this tends to cause their selection, preference and consumption of foods to change. This can mean they eat less or more of foods with varying consistency each day. This is often a concern for most parents and becomes a constant source of conversation and attention.
Before we know it, our child is off to school, and we are struggling to follow the “traffic light system” for lunch boxes (woe betide the parent sending their child to school with any food from the prohibited “red” group!) and associated allergies and restrictions that are these days common place.
The world-wide web along with your friends, family, social media and wholisitic wellness warriors will try and give you their sound advice based on ‘experience’ and this continues to create more confusion for most of us parents.
Where Should You Go for Sound Advice?
Your first point of call is to see a dietitian.
A dietitian with experience and qualifications in working with children will be able to provide the expert assessment and guidance you need for any of the following:
Allergies and Food Intolerances
Over recent years we have seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of food allergies and intolerances.
Although any food may cause an allergic reaction, the most common culprits include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts and other types of nuts, wheat, soy, sesame, and seafood.
Currently, experts recommend introducing solids around 4-6 months of age depending on their readiness. It is recommended that in the first 12 months of their life it is important to include these common allergenic foods with the frequency of which your family consumes them.
If there is a family history of allergies and intolerances or your child is struggling to tolerate foods, a dietitian that specialises in paediatric nutrition will be able guide you in the right direction and provide the sound advice you and your family needs.
Although fussy food habits tend to peak between the ages of two and six, they can also be seen in older children and those with feeding or sensory difficulties such as in Autism.
As a parent, it’s easy to panic when your child suddenly refuses to eat anything except vegemite sandwiches, so much for a balanced diet!
A dietitian can conduct a nutritional assessment, as well as help with meal planning and other tips to support you and your child to increase their diet variety. It is amazing the difference even small changes can bring – for example, serving the main meal at lunch time, rather than at night when your child is over tired.
Over a quarter of Australian children are currently not growing in accordance with healthy growth. These children carry excess weight that is known to likely continue through to adulthood. If your child is in this category, working with a dietitian can help them to avoid a lifetime of weight related health problems.
If your child frequently suffers from issues such as bloating, belly pain and constipation, a dietitian can investigate whether food is impacting on their symptoms and how to treat it.
Taking Care of your Child’s Nutrition and Health
A dietitian can also assist you and your family if your child is affected by a more serious condition such as diabetes, disordered eating, cystic fibrosis, or cancer.
Here at Sunshine Coast Dietetics, Peta Adams is our resident Paediatric dietitian. Peta has not only holds a Graduate Certificate in Paediatric Nutrition and as a parent of a vivacious toddler, she understands the struggles and frustrations you face.
If you have any concerns about your child’s nutrition, make an appointment to see Peta or any of our Accredited Practising Dietitians today.