Diet and Nutrition

Advice for Parents

Paediatric trauma can impact on your child’s nutritional status and a referral to the Paediatric Dietitian may be required for a variety of reasons. The aim is to help ensure that your child is meeting their fluid and nutritional requirements required for growth and to optimise their recovery.


Dietitians are specialists in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of nutritional problems. When your child is referred to us we will come and assess them and this includes assessing their growth, nutritional requirements and any other issues that may be impacting on their nutritional intake after a traumatic event.


In hospital, a dietician may see your child on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and/or the Paediatric Ward. When you leave the hospital your child may be referred to Local Community Services close to home/school or they may need further inpatient rehabilitation at a specialist unit.


Your child might be referred to the Dietitian for a variety of reasons including;

  • If your child is sedated in the paediatric critical care unit and is unable to eat or drink
  • If your child has a brain injury that has caused problems with their ability to eat, drink or swallow safely
  • Facial trauma that makes eating and drinking difficult or unsafe
  • They have a poor appetite
  • They had problems eating or were malnourished prior to their admission to hospital

A Dietitian will identify a way to meet your child’s nutritional requirements and this might be through a temporary nasogastric feeding tube if they are unable to eat and drink normally. A nasogastric feeding tube is a thin, bendy, plastic tube is passed through the nose, down the oesophagus until it reaches the stomach. The Dietitian will prescribe a feeding regimen that is suitable for your child, using a special liquid feed. The liquid feed is a replacement for normal food and contains fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. We will tailor this to your child’s individual needs.

Some children may require longer term tube feeding and if this is required they will need to have a gastrostomy feeding tube which connects the stomach to the outside of your child’s tummy. Liquid feed is then given in the same way as a nasogastric feeding tube.

If your child is able to eat or drink normally but has increased nutritional requirements we may need to prescribe nutritional supplements. These are mostly in the form of a milkshake style drink. We will also advise you how to increase your child’s nutritional intake using high energy/high protein foods and maximising their normal diet as much as possible. We work very closely with the Speech and Language Therapists who will also be supporting your child with any eating, drinking or swallowing problems.


Traumatic events in children can cause a wide range of nutritional problems. It is important to remember that each child’s problems are individual and that their recovery time will be different. During the course of their treatment they should be reviewed regularly and their dietetic plan will change depending on their progress and individual needs.


All therapy goals will be jointly made with you, your child and other professionals who are caring for your child. You will be encouraged to attend ward reviews in hospital and to support you to continue diet therapy with your child. It may be necessary for you to learn how to provide nasogastric tube feeding or gastrostomy tube feeding at home and we will support you with this.

Images courtesy of Boardmarker