Stefanie Valakas, Dietitian, Baulkham Hills NSW
12 March 2019
The 13th of March is Registered Dietitians Day! As a dietitian, I frequently get asked about what I do and how I can help them and their family with their child, particularly their fussy eater.
In a recent survey, 85% of families reported their child as a fussy eater, so there’s no doubt there are a lot of mealtime battles happening across the country every night.
A university-trained expert in nutrition and child feeding can help you and your family restore peace to mealtimes whilst also optimising their nutrition, overall. Here are 6 ways a dietitian can assist your family if you have a fussy eater in the family.
1. Find out if your child is actually missing out on key nutrients
Many parents of children who exhibit fussy eating become quite concerned about two main nutrition-related issues:
- Is my child getting enough energy/total food to grow?
- Is my child getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to thrive?
A dietitian is perfectly placed to give you the answers to both of these questions, working out whether you should be concerned about the total energy your child is getting in their day, and whether any particular nutrients are at risk.
Bonus: We can even help advise you what testing may be appropriate through your GP or paediatrician.
2. Get a growth assessment and someone who keeps track for you
Growth charts can be intimidating and where your child sits within that mess of grid lines and curves can be hard to understand. A dietitian can help go through your child’s growth charts with you to help you better understand whether they are growing well, and highlighting the times when you may need to seek some extra help.
A dietitian will also measure your child at each appointment and flag any concerns with you early to ensure your child’s growth and development is on track, it’s one of our top priorities!
3. Specific advice for your child’s medical history
Your child is unique. Many children present with a number of medical conditions or a long history of different issues which need to be taken into consideration before proceeding with any kind of nutrition plan, supplementation or therapy program.
A dietitian is trained in medical nutrition therapy to deliver scientifically-backed recommendations specific to you and your child’s medical needs so you can be sure you get a comprehensive and thorough plan that is safe and effective for you and your family.
4. Nutrition tips and answering your nutrition questions
From supplements, meal ideas, recipes, tips and tricks – a dietitian is your go-to for all your food and nutrition-related questions. With a widespread technical knowledge of food, nutrition and supplements combined with their practical knowledge on implementing recommendations from boosting your child’s vegetable intake, adding in some extra energy for catch-up growth or helping assemble a healthy school lunchbox – a dietitian can help!
5. Mealtime management strategies
Most families come to me, stressed and exhausted and dreading the next mealtime with their child. Working with a paediatric dietitian can help equip you with the strategies to help manage mealtimes and transform them from chaotic to peaceful and positive.
6. Communicating with your child’s team
If your child is also seeing medical professionals, other allied health like a psychologist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist or physiotherapist, your dietitian will communicate (with your consent, of course) with your team to keep them in the loop about what you’re working on and how this may fit in with your other therapy goals.
Want more information on managing fussy eating? Check out the Raising Children’s Network website: https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/nutrition-fitness/common-concerns/fussy-eating
Need some one-on-one help from an expert team for your child with feeding difficulties? Get in touch with The Talbot Centre to make an appointment for a comprehensive assessment.
Dietitian, Baulkham Hills NSW
Stefanie has a strong interest and passion for paediatric nutrition, with a focus on creating positive behaviours and habits around food from childhood leading to a positive relationship with food in adulthood. Stefanie also has an interest in perinatal and fertility nutrition and general nutrition support across the ages and works with a wide range of nutritional concerns, assisting individuals and families to navigate the confusing world of nutrition successfully.