Baby/Nutrition Coaches or Consultants

There seems to be an explosion, much like the cloth nappy brands, of “solids/nutrition/sleep/baby coaches” appearing everywhere. But my biggest questions is what qualifications do they have to be giving such advice?

When it comes to health advice, as adults we can follow which ever plan, do whatever we like and in theory (and within reason) this is fine. However, babies/toddlers/children ARE NOT tiny adults. They will never go through the same level and speed of growth and development as they do in the first 1000 days (conception through the first two years).

Most babies are iron deficient by 6 months so the whole “food under one is just for fun” statement is outdated. Likewise, if vegetarian or vegan – baby’s diet needs to be carefully planned. They have a very immature gut – this is normal – so we need to mindful of what we feed, and how often. Their kidneys are immature – this is normal – and things like homemade formula/milk substitutes or using adult milk as their main milk when under one can heavily impact their kidney function.

When reading or taking “healthcare professional” advice, be sure to check their credentials – I cannot stress this enough. Ask questions, ask where they studied and for how long. We all know midwives, doctors, nurses, pharmacists must not only be degree trained and registered (keeping up professional development), but many others can use titles which make them sound skilled when they are not necessarily.

For example, degree qualified nutritionists spend a minimum of 3yrs focusing solely on nutrition and physiology, and then many choose to do their masters (becoming a dietitian) or specializing in a particular area which further narrows down their expertise.

A lot of “institutions” I’ve seen recently are handing out certificates or diplomas in nutrition which then sees them calling themselves nutritionists – a misleading term at best. These certificates/qualifications also vary widely in cost and I wonder who benefits (look at the company handing them out). They may have only spent 6 months, or a year part time and most of the papers don’t focus on infant nutrition – a very specific area.

By all means, we all have our own lived experiences – and these are completely valid when setting up a business or choosing a message to share (we all need passion to do what we do). However, when you dig deeper you’ll find many of the programs, recommendations etc. aren’t based on research at all – just the original designers experiences – and this is scary when we think many things like sleep wake windows, milk choice and flippant advice around solids aren’t backed by science yet widely accepted as “the norm”.

This isn’t to discredit people/companies or to scare parents, it’s just something to be mindful of in this ever-growing industry – especially where followers and pretty images outweigh the message behind it.

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