Growth & Nutrition

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Evaluation & Treatment: Nutrition Domain

Authored by: Mary Beth Feuling, MS, RD, CNSD, Jude Trautlein, RD, and Feeding Matters

Nutrition is the foundation for growth and development. Whether your infant or child eats by mouth or through a feeding tube, good nutrition allows children to thrive. It directly affects a child’s brain activity and capabilities, fine and gross motor skill development, and overall health and wellness. Poor growth and nutrition for children can lead to lifelong issues and difficulties.

When You Should Be Concerned

Below is a sample of warning signs associated with pediatric feeding disorders. For a more comprehensive list based on your child’s age, please visit our Infant and Child Feeding Questionnaire page..

  • Child is underweight or overweight
  • Child is regularly fatigued or lethargic
  • Child is not reaching milestones (rolling over, crawling, walking, holding head upright)
  • Child shows a lack of interest in their environment
  • Child appears consistently confused, foggy, or cranky
  • Child frequently is nauseated, pale, or sweaty or looks ill during or shortly after eating

Who Can Help Assess and Treat

A registered dietitian (RD) is the most qualified specialist to address growth and nutritional needs. Some RDs call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are RDs. Virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist,” regardless of education or training. RDs are food and nutrition experts who have earned a bachelor’s degree; completed an accredited, supervised practice program; passed a national board examination, and attended continuing education courses to maintain their licensing.

What They Do

  • Assess a child’s diet to determine if the child is taking the nutrients he or she needs (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, fluids, calories, etc.)
  • Work with a feeding therapist (speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist) to find nutritional food that the child has the skills to eat
  • Work with a physician to create a well-tolerated diet, which could include a wide range of formulas and/or a homemade blenderized diet (allergies, eosinophilic esophagitis etc.)
  • Incorporate the family’s lifestyle and religious beliefs into the diet (vegetarian, soy, pork, etc.)

This model addresses all aspects of pediatric feeding disorders. Click the model to learn more.