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Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?

Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?

Nutritionist: when should your child get a consultation? A child nutritionist is someone who knows a lot about what kids need to eat to be healthy and grow properly. They help parents and caregivers make sure that children are getting all the right nutrients in their diet. Whether it’s making sure a picky eater gets enough vitamins or helping a child with food allergies, child nutritionists are there to make sure kids stay healthy through good eating habits.

When should your child get a consultation from a nutritionist?

Children can benefit from consultation with a nutritionist at various stages of their development. It’s particularly important during key phases like infancy, toddlerhood, and childhood, as these are critical periods for growth and development.  When should children get a consultation from a nutritionist?

  1. Feeding Difficulties

Some babies have problems eating and drinking at the first few tries. That is normal because babies have trouble holding food and drinks inside their mouth. They may spit it out, avoid new foods, and refuse to eat certain textures of food.  However, a child with feeding difficulties will keep having the same trouble.

Feeding difficulties may include swallow problems: difficulty of food and fluid passing from mouth to the throat, through oesophagus and to the stomach.

How do you know your child has difficulties in feeding?

  • Refuse to drink and eat
  • Not gaining weight well
  • Coughing, choking or gagging when eating or drinking
  • Arches their back or stiffen themselves when feeding
  • Cries or fussing when feeding
  • Throwing up often
  • Regularly takes a long time when eating (over 30 minutes)
  • Avoid food with certain textures
  • Isn’t alert when feeding
  • Has problems in chewing and swallowing food or liquid
  • Has trouble breathing when eating and drinking
Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?

Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?

2. Failure to thrive

When the child is not gaining weight as they should, it is called “failure to thrive” . It is a sign that the child is undernourished, they are not getting enough calories to grow and gain weight, in a healthy way. As we should know, kids need enough calories to develop and grow well.

So, what is the cause of failure to thrive?

  • Not enough calories
  • The child eats too little
  • Health problems that involving digestive problems
  • Food intolerance : For example milk protein intolerance.
  • Ongoing medical condition
  • Infections: As the body can use up alot of calories as it fights against infection.
  • Metabolic disorders: These are health conditions that make it hard for the body to break down, process, or take energy from food. They also can cause a child to eat poorly or vomit.

3. Obesity or overweight

Obesity or overweight problems in children have increased over these years. According to the Ministry Of Health Malaysia,up to 30% of Malaysian children are found to be overweight.This problem is a significant health concern worldwide, which also can negatively impact your child’s health and well being. The following health risk could be exposed to obese/overweight child

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems such as fatty liver disease that lead to liver failure 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Breathing disorder caused by upper airway obstruction in obese children. The children will have snoring and interruptions of breathing while sleeping.
  • Gallstones disease
  • Joint damage because of carrying extra body weight for a long time
  • Metabolic syndrome and risk of heart disease
  • Menstrual problems
  • Persistent overweight as adults
  • Depression, as being overweight can lead to self esteem problems.
When should your child get a consultation from a nutritionist?

When should your child get a consultation from a nutritionist?

4. Independent food choices & Restricted diet

Children will independently decide to follow particular diets or restricting themselves in certain food groups as they are getting older. Encouraging independence in food choices can be positive as it allows children to explore different tastes and textures, fostering a healthy relationship with food.However, it’s essential to guide children towards making nutritious choices by providing a variety of healthy options and modelling healthy eating behaviours. Parents and caregivers can involve children in meal planning and preparation, educate them about the importance of balanced nutrition, and create a supportive food environment at home.

While restricted diets in children can refer to various situations. Sometimes, medical conditions like food allergies or intolerances necessitate specific dietary restrictions to ensure the child’s health and safety. In other cases, parents may impose restrictions on certain foods or food groups due to personal beliefs, cultural practices, or dietary preferences. While some dietary restrictions can be necessary and beneficial, it’s crucial to ensure that children still receive adequate nutrition for their growth and development. 

Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help parents navigate dietary restrictions effectively, ensuring that children get all the essential nutrients they need.

 5. Allergies & Intolerances

Allergies are referred to when a person is allergic to a food group, their immune system will think that the food as foreign invader, so antibodies will be created for that certain food. Everytime that certain food enters their body, their immune system releases those antibodies together with histamine.

Because of the histamine, some reactions occurred such as: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cramps

Or some serious symptoms like:

  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Itching or tightness in the throat
  • Itchiness or swelling of the lips,tongue, mouth
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Lowered blood pressure

Intolerance means that your baby has trouble digesting certain food groups, it might happen because the body does not have enough of certain enzymes to digest the food. These are the examples of food intolerance:

  • Gluten intolerance, such as wheat, rye, or barley
  • Lactose intolerance (dairy products)
  • Fructose intolerance (hard to fully absorb sugar in fruits and vege)

Those who have been diagnosed with food allergy or intolerance should modify their diet or be supervised by a nutritionist or dietitian to make sure they get all the nutrients they have.Usually your paediatrician may refer you to gastroenterologist or nutritionist to help pinpoint what’s causing a reaction to your child’s body. 

6. Eating Disorder

Eating disorders in fact will affect young girls and boys under 12 years old, so parents should recognize the sign of an eating disorder in their child. As eating disorders can lead to physical, emotional and social consequences. Eating disorders can be heritable, so if a parent or siblings has an eating disorder, most likely their child will develop the disorders too.
Types of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa: obsessive drive to lose weight through food restriction and excessive exercise, despite the person already at a low body weight. 
  • Atypical anorexia nervosa: lost a significant amount of weight and has all the features of anorexia nervosa.
  • Bulimia nervosa: recurrent episode of binge eating associated with a feeling of loss of control around the eating. Then followed by vomiting, laxative misuse or over-exercising to avoid gaining weight. 
  • Avoid restrictive food intake disorder

If you are the parent of a child with an eating disorder, it’s important to reach out to your child’s paediatrician, nutritionist, or other mental health professionals to help your child. 

Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?

Nutritionist: When should your child get a consultation?


Introducing: our dedicated nutritionist

Firststep Child Specialist Clinic are excited to offer specialized nutritional guidance to help your little ones grow healthy and strong. 

🌟Introducing our nutritionist 🌟

🌟Introducing our nutritionist 🌟

Say hello to Ms. Cheong Siew Man, a friendly face in the world of nutrition!

With 12 years under her belt as a researcher and nutrition educator at the Ministry of Health Malaysia, she’s practically a pro.

Ms. Cheong’s passion in  mother and child nutrition. She is your go-to guru for all things related to helping pregnant moms, newborns, and toddlers eat right and live well.

Armed with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Universiti Putra Malaysia, she’s all about making healthy eating fun and easy for families. Whether it’s whipping up delicious meal plans or sharing handy tips, Ms. Cheong is here to help families everywhere thrive with good food and good vibes!





Azzimawati, R. (2013, September 23). Childhood Obesity. PORTAL MyHEALTH.

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. (2019). Kids Health Info: Nutrition – school-age to adolescence.

Allergy or Intolerance: Understanding the Difference in Infants. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Eating Disorders in Children 12 and Under: Learn the Warning Signs. (2021, September 10).

Kids Health Information : Eating disorders. (n.d.).