What is nutritional support?

Nutritional support can involve food fortification, the use of sip feeds (oral nutritional supplements), tube feeding or a combination of these approaches. It may be required short-term or life-long depending on the child’s specific needs. The aims of nutritional support are to ensure the child receives sufficient energy, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to meet their specific nutritional requirements, as well as supporting normal growth and development.

Here is an overview of the types of nutritional support that a dietitian or doctor may recommend:

Food fortification

If your toddler is able to eat and drink, your healthcare professional may consider ‘food fortification’. This involves adding small amounts of high-calorie foods, such as butter, milk and cream to meals, thereby increasing their energy intake without increasing the volume of food they eat.

Sip feeds (oral nutritional supplements)

If your toddler is unable to meet their nutritional needs from food alone, your healthcare professional might recommend sip feeding. Sip feeds are specially formulated to provide protein, calories and a range of essential nutrients in a small volume. Sip feeds are available in a variety of flavours and styles to meet the differing requirements of toddlers. They can be taken as a drink between meals or used in recipes. Your healthcare professional will advise you on how many your toddler needs to take each day.

Tube feeding or enteral feeding

In some cases, your healthcare professional may consider tube feeding where your toddler is unable to consume enough foods and drinks to meet their nutritional needs. Your healthcare professional will provide advice on the most suitable feeding route and formulation to meet your child’s specific nutritional needs. 

The approach chosen by your healthcare professional will depend on your toddler’s individual nutritional needs and their daily routine.

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.

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RXANI130244d Date of preparation: January 2014