As parents, we always worry that our children aren’t getting enough nutrients to grow and thrive. Let’s face it, getting our kiddos to eat fruits and veggies is hard. Add a picky eater to the mix, and it almost seems unimaginable to get them to eat anything remotely healthy.
As a registered dietitian, entrepreneur, and momma of two boys, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to nourish our little ones. There have been days where I literally didn’t have it in me to fight, and we settled for cereal or frozen dinners (which I have nothing against, BTW!). However, to make things a little bit easier, sometimes we all can use a little help.
Whether your child is a picky eater or struggles with a chronic disease that restricts certain foods in their diet, a pediatric nutritionist can make a world of difference.
In this article, I want to tell you a little bit about what a pediatric nutritionist does, why you should visit one, and where you can find one.
Let’s dive in!
What Does A Pediatric Nutritionist Do?
A pediatric nutritionist is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) specializing in infant, toddler, child, and adolescent nutrition. They work with children of all ages to ensure your child has a healthy relationship with food and grows up healthy and strong.
Pediatric Nutritionist VS Pediatric Dietitian
If you’re on the fence and considering seeing a pediatric nutritionist for your child, be sure that your practitioner is a registered dietitian credentialed by the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR). While frequently the words are interchangeable, they aren’t the same.
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. A registered dietitian must earn an undergraduate degree in nutrition or science. After graduating, they must successfully be matched to an internship and complete 900-1200 hours of training under a practicing RDN.
Furthermore, an intern must pass an exam (a really hard one at that!) before applying to become a registered dietitian.
Additionally, many pediatric dietitians have earned their Board Certification as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP).
You may ask why I’m using the words interchangeably throughout this post if they aren’t the same. This is because the majority of people search for pediatric nutritionists. I want to include both titles to be sure this post reaches as many people as possible!
So, now that you know a little bit more about our profession let’s talk about why your child should see a pediatric dietitian.
Five Reasons Your Child Should See a Pediatric Nutritionist
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be given only breastmilk for the first six months and breastfeed for a minimum of a year.
I don’t know about y’all, but it is tough and mentally exhausting trying to breastfeed when things aren’t going smoothly.
Having the guidance and support of a pediatric dietitian can be a game-changer.
Pediatric nutritionists have specialized training and skill set with a proven track record to help with any difficulties you may be facing.
Did you know lactating women need more nutrients? A pediatric nutritionist can help you create customized meal plans to help your breastmilk production. They can also monitor your baby’s weight to be sure they’re growing appropriately.
Early Detection of Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Early on, children may have food intolerances and allergies which go undetected. Whether they aren’t old enough to voice symptoms or we just think they are a “picky eater,” a pediatric dietitian can help.
They are trained to analyze your child’s diet and pick up on behavior cues that may otherwise be overlooked. By detecting a food allergy or sensitivity early on, your nutritionist can customize a diet plan to save your little one a lot of tummy troubles.
Develop a Healthy Relationship With Food Early On
The earlier you start seeing a pediatric nutritionist, the more open your child will be with them. Not only can they help your child develop a healthy relationship with food, but they can also teach parents how to continue developing that relationship at home.
We may often go to a doctor, and they simply tell us our children are overweight. They may refer you to a dietitian to create a meal plan for your child to help with weight management.
However, when you go visit with your pediatric dietitian, you’ll likely feel comforted and reassured. Children often go through different growth stages throughout life where their weight may fluctuate.
A pediatric nutritionist will look at the overall trends in your child’s weight patterns and take a comprehensive approach to provide you with the best nutrition advice.
Help You and Your Child Manage Chronic Conditions
One of the most important things your pediatric nutritionist can do for you is help manage chronic conditions.
If your child has celiac disease, diabetes, or kidney dysfunction, your pediatric nutritionist will be with you every step of the way.
It’s scary to change our diets when we get older, let alone be faced with restricting our little ones. In some instances, chronic conditions can result in malnutrition that can hinder healthy growth and development.
Your pediatric dietitian can evaluate the need for supplementation, provide meal ideas to promote optimal nutrition, and more.
Your pediatric nutritionist will likely spend an hour getting to know you and your child during your first visit.
This will involve growth patterns, lab data, meal patterns, social situations, and more. By really spending the time to sit down and get to know your child, your nutritionist will be able to individualize a plan that fits your little one.
Nutrition is never a one size fits all approach, and you’re more likely to see success with one on one individualized care.
If you’ve been considering seeing a pediatric nutritionist, I hope I’ve shared some insight on just how invaluable their services are. With all of the misinformation surrounding nutrition, it really is essential to speak with a licensed, credentialed professional to give your kiddo the proper nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
To find a pediatric dietitian in your area, click here. Simply enter your zip code, and click search. I recommend searching for an RD with a CSP credential to ensure you’ll have a board-certified specialist in pediatrics. If you have trouble locating one near you, you can also contact your local hospital, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.