Foods come in different shapes, sizes, textures, flavors and nutritional make up. How do we know which foods are most beneficial for our children, and which ones are more harmful than good? With the many different views we see on social media, how can we be sure we are providing our eaters with the most nutritious food fit for their own needs.
Some vitamins or supplements contain multiple nutrients, while others focus on just one. Do we go for the multi-vitamin, or should we try focusing in on a few key ingredients? How can we know which supplements are safe, and are made with your specific eater’s needs in mind?
For this, we recommend first speaking with your pediatrician, and if you’re working with a Registered Dietician their input is going to be extremely valuable. If you aren’t yet working with a dietician, ask your pediatrician for a referral to a Registered Dietician (RD) to obtain more information.
Specifically, if your eater has food allergies, gastrointestinal difficulties, and/or is a selective eater. Their knowledge base is wide, yet tailored to answer all of those specific questions we have when choosing foods for our eaters. In all, having a dietician on your team will be greatly helpful!
Dietitians work in many settings: hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports programs, private practices, businesses, schools and research, to name a few. They can have many specialties: gerontological nutrition (CSG), sports dietetics (CSSD), pediatric nutrition (CSP), oncology nutrition (CSO), and renal nutrition (CSR).
Is this also considered a nutritionist?
A dietician, by definition is a person “who had college training in the science of nutrition and management and is proficient in the art of feeding individuals and groups.”
A nutritionist is “a qualified, professionally trained person who directs or carries on a program of activities dealing with the application of scientific knowledge of nutrition to the prevention of disease and the promotion of positive health,” (Cassell, 1990)(Marcason, 2015).
“All registered dieticians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dieticians” (CDR, 2014)(Marcason, 2015).
Here are some benefits to having a registered dietician on your team:
- Can help guide you from infancy and toddlerhood, to adolescence. Problem solving through these ever changing stages.
- Will work with your family on food allergies and intolerances. Figuring out what could be limiting your child’s nutrition, and how to boost it.
- Specialized diet plans tailored to your eater’s abilities: i.e. G-tube/J-tube, Gluten Free Diet, Dairy Intolerance, modified textures for swallowing difficulties, etc.
- Referrals to resources and recommendations for further testing.
- Helpful tips and strategies to introduce supplements as necessary.
- Can answer those tricky questions we never feel sure of, such as how much to feed your child at a specific age, and how to prepare then for new stages.
- Can offer guidance in explaining the “growth-curve”, and what this means for your eater.
- Finding the most nutritious items available within your family’s budget.
If you’d like to see if this is a possibility for your family, see below.
Here is a link to “EatRight.org”, where you can use their “Find a Nutrition Expert” search.
From there, you can select “In-person” or “Telehealth” (for a virtual appointment), and select a specialty or multiples specialties (Pediatrics, Eating Disorders, Food Allergies & Intolerances, etc.) depending on your family’s needs.
Find it here:
Apart from your doctor and a, RD, some other pivotal members of your feeding team can include Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy (SLP), Physical Therapy (PT), Social Worker (LCSW), Dentists (DDS), and Psychological Support (for you and for you child).
Why these additional team members are helpful:
- OT – Occupational Therapists can work with your child on sensory processing abilities and adapting their environment to increase their participation in mealtimes. We also work on a myriad of other skills involved with self-feeding, including fine motor and visual motor skills for utensil use. We are skilled in looking at the whole individual, and tailoring each piece of the puzzle towards function and independence.
- SLP – Speech Language Pathologists have extensive knowledge in oral motor movements (how we coordinate tongue and jaw to eat) and swallowing. They can help strengthen your child’s mouth muscles to help with chewing, and help adapt food makeup to better aid in swallowing. All of this on top of working with your eater to functionally communicate their own needs.
- PT – Physical Therapists can help strengthen the whole body in order to be able to sustain a seated position for feeding, and if they’re certified in myofascial therapy, they can ease tension in the muscles in charge of eating.
- Dentist (DDS): Individuals who are certified in Myofascial treatment can also be found in dentist offices. They work to treat the muscles involved in chewing and swallowing before and after revision of a tongue tie. They also would provide extensive knowledge in maintaining oral health particular to your eater’s diet.
- Social Worker – A licensed social worker can help find resources for food insecurity and assistance.
- Psychologist – Psychologists can provide support with the social emotional challenges faced with selective eating, both for you and for your child. They can help counsel on how best to handle certain situations that can arise, and provide helpful resources to make mealtimes more successful for your family.
All of these team members can be found through your doctor, a search with your insurance, or a search from your local regional center.
Search for therapists on social media, and give them a follow to see what they can offer your family. If it seems like something that could benefit your family, we feel it’s worth a try.
We hope this helps clear the path for you and your family. Send us a message in our “Ask a Librarian” section if you need more help navigating the process.
Cassell J.A. 1990. Carry the Flame: The History of the American Dietetic Association. American Dietetic Association, Chicago, IL.
Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR). 2014. RDN Credential—Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.cdrnet.org/news/rdncredentialfaq.
Marcason, W. 2015. Dietitian, Dietician, or Nutritionist?. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 115, Issue 3,
P. 484, ISSN 2212-2672, https://doi.org/10.1016 /j.jand.2014.12.024. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267214018863)