Nutrition services assess the nutritional needs of the child and correct for any nutritional deficiencies. Nutrition services are provided by a registered dietitian.
Services include the assessment of:
- Nutritional history, current dietary intake and nutrient needs
- Anthropometrical (measurement of height & weight), biochemical (ie. Metabolism) and other clinical variables
- Feeding skills and feeding problems
- Food habits and food preferences
Nutritional Services also include:
- Developing and monitoring appropriate feeding plans to address nutritional needs based on assessment results
- Referring to appropriate medical specialists and community resources to carry out nutrition goals
Why are Early Intervention Nutrition Services So Critical?
- A well fed brain and body are critical for optimal success. Without appropriate and adequate fuel the child’s brain and body are unable to make the rapid changes necessary in early childhood.
- Children with even mild malnutrition have weakened immune systems. This sets them up for additional insult from a whole host of opportunistic infections further weakening the child and increasing the demand for nutrients.
- Children with underlying nutritional compromise are less likely to get the full benefit from therapy.
Typical Reasons to Request Nutrition Services in Early Intervention
- Poor intake in quality or quantity
- Poor or excessive growth
- Restricted diet due to medical diagnosis or allergies/intolerances (ie. Renal diet, cardiac diet, gluten free casein free diet, peanut, egg or shellfish allergies)
- Feeding concerns
- Supplementation being used or considered (calorie & single nutrient supplements)
- Tube feeding or TPN management (total parenteral nutrition)
- GI concerns such as chronic constipation, diarrhea or acid reflux
- Clinical diagnoses associated with feeding/nutrition/growth concerns (kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, autism, etc).
Services the Early Intervention Registered Dietitian Will Provide
- Measure and monitor growth-height and weight
- Access current intake
- Calculate current needs
- Assure nutrient needs are being met
- Address any GI concerns through diet and appropriate supplements
- Advocate for any additional testing
- Advocate for more aggressive nutrition therapy when necessary
- Manage tube feeding or TPN
- Work with family to eliminate feeding concerns
- Link family with a number of community resources for food, supplements, and educational opportunities
Two supplements that are almost universally recommended for optimal health are Probiotics and Multivitamins. Consult your child’s doctor or dietitian for recommendations.
Remember that every child can benefit from the services of a dietitian. If your instinct says your child could use the service, make the request!