What is a Dietitian?
Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition-related problems. Paediatric dietitians specifically deal with children and their nutritional needs. We translate scientific research about food and disease into practical guidance for children and their families. Our team of paediatric dietitians is also involved in audit and quality improvement in order to improve the service offered to patients, care-givers and other health professionals.
What do we do?
The team extends across 4 hospital sites (Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross Hospital, Newham General Hospital, Mile End Hospital) covering:
We see children from 0 to 18 years of age, and cover all inpatient areas Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Royal London: 6C (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)),7C (PASSU), 7D, 7E, 7F, 8D (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU))
Whipps Cross: Acorn Ward and SCBU
Newham: Rainbow Ward and SCBU
Patients admitted to the wards (not including 6C and 8D) are nutritionally assessed using the STAMP (screening tool for assessing malnutrition in paediatrics) tool and referred to the dietitians where required.
See what coming to childrens outpatients is like in this video. The guidance below will help you correctly get to your outpatient appointment.
Outpatient appointments are held in the Royal London Children's Hospital, Level 7.
- Gastroenterology: clinic areas 3 and 5
- General Dietetics appointments: clinic area 4
- Allergy: clinic areas 3 and 4
- Diabetes: clinic area 5
Specialist clinics in conjunction with consultants are run for allergy, morbid obesity, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and gastroenterology.
The Children’s Dietitians run their own clinics and accept referrals from consultants and GPs for children under 16 years of age living in Tower Hamlets from consultants or GPs. Assessment, advice and treatment are provided for:
- food allergy (up to 2 allergies)
- faltering growth
- coeliac disease
Two highly specialist dietitians (both with a background in Allergy Research) provide a full-time allergy service. They work as an integral part of the Allergy team alongside the allergy consultants and specialist nurses.
For any patients requiring a specialist feed, there is a specialist milk kitchen at the Royal London Hospital which produces a full range of therapeutic formulas and therapeutic diets as required.
The Children’s Dietitians run their own clinics and accept referrals for children under 16 years of age living in Waltham forest and meeting the referral criteria. Assessment, advice and treatment are provided for:
- food allergy
- faltering growth
- coeliac disease
- home enterally fed children
Newham General Hospital
The Children’s dietitians run their own clinics and accept referrals for children under 16 years of age living in Newham. Assessment, advice and treatment are provided for:
- food allergy
- faltering growth
- therapeutic diets
- weight management
Mile End Hospital
Home-enteral-tube-feeding dietitians are based at Mile End Hospital. Assessment, advice and treatment is provided for:
- home enterally fed patients only
Eating whilst in hospital
We have a wide range of food available for your child throughout their hospital stay. Children’s meals are ordered on a daily basis so your child can choose what they like. Every morning a ward host will come to you with a tablet and take your child’s order for lunch. After lunch, the ward host will return to order dinner.
Breastfeeding mothers will also be offered meals however; we are not able to provide food for other family members.
There are a variety of menus available:
- Monkey menu [pdf] 2MB
- Young adult menu[pdf] 408KB
- World food and Halal
- Specialist menus (gluten free/texture modified)
- Breakfast: 07:30 – 08:30
- Lunchtime: 12.00 – 13.00
- Dinnertime: 17.00 – 18.00
Snacks between meals
We have a snack and drink trolley with a variety of potions which circulates the wards twice daily
For patients identified as requiring extra calories; a selection of high-energy snacks is available, these are requested by the dietitian
All wards have protected mealtimes which allow patients to eat their meal in a relaxed environment without any non-urgent clinical work taking place. During this time, nursing staff will serve and assist patients with their meals. Parents are encouraged to stay throughout mealtimes to support children with eating.
What happens if my child misses a meal?
Do not worry, we have an out of hours menu [pdf] 1MB available for patients who may have missed a meal due to a procedure.
How do I raise concern about my child’s intake?
Within the first 24 hours of being on the ward, your child will have a nutritional screening. For this, they will have their weight and height measured. This will also give you the opportunity to discuss your child’s usual eating habits and whether there have been any recent changes. The ward will also keep a daily log of what your child is eating and drinking. If appropriate, they will refer to the hospital dietitian.
How can I support my child to eat while in hospital?
Parents and relatives are encouraged to be around at mealtimes to support and assist with eating. If your child is struggling with their appetite, it is a good idea to bring in their favourite food, or if well enough, you could take them to the hospital canteen on the 5th floor.
Nutrition and dietetic information for families
Below are links to some useful information for common questions we get from parents, patients and families.
Bliss is a charity that works with families and professionals to support them when babies are born too early. Their website provides lots of this link provides information on introducing more solid foods to babies born early, before term.
This food facts sheet from The British Dietetic Association is about introducing solid foods (weaning /complimentary feeding) to your child.
The Infant and Toddler Forum has infomation on growth, feeding in the first year, portion sizes and common nutritional problems in childhood.
Healthy Start is the Government welfare food scheme. Healthy Start supports young and low income pregnant women and families with children under the age of 4 years in the UK. Information about the scheme, and about healthy eating, aimed at both health professionals and parents, is provided on their website.
With Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins. Pregnant or have children under the age of four? You could qualify if you're on benefits, or if you're pregnant and under 18.
Fussy and faddy eating
If you are concerned about your childs eating, if they are fussy or refusing foods the Infant and Toddler Forum is a really great source of advice.
This food facts sheet from The British Dietetic Association is about cow’s milk allergy.
The allergy service also provides lots of useful information on allergies in children for parents, families and professionals.
General healthy eating guidance
This Food Facts Sheet from The British Dietetic Association is about general healthy eating for children
The Caroline Walker Trust produces nutrition guides for all ages, these can be used by parents, families and young people as well as schools and other institutes providing food. These include brilliant portion guides, recipes and meal ideas.
First Steps Nutrition Trust is an independent public health nutrition charity that provides information and resources to support eating well from pre-conception to five years. There are healthy eating guides, infomation on food banks, recipes and ideas as well as a guide to vegan diets in the under 5’s.
Specific vitamins and minerals
The below 'food facts' sheet from The British Dietetic Association provides information on:
Constipation is common in childhood and small changes to diet and fluid intake can improve bowel habit. More information is provided here, but it would also be recommended to visit the GP so that they can provide additional advice and any treatment required.
Are you worried about your weight or your childs weight? If you know your weight and height, click here to use the NHS Choices handy BMI calculator to find out if you have healthy weight.
If your child is underweight or has lost weight recently you may choose to visit your GP to ask for a dietitian referral.
If you/your child are overweight you could ask your GP if there is a local weight management service that they could refer you to.
There are some useful online resources: