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What is a Paediatric Naturopath?

By Lisa Moane
from The Paediatric Naturopath

Understanding Paediatric Naturopathy

In the world of natural medicine, paediatric naturopathy is emerging as a specialised field that embodies the principles of naturopathic medicine tailored specifically for infants, children, and adolescents.

Children commonly experience a range of unique health challenges not always seen in adults. As children grow and learn, they experience things for the first time, like an increase in food variety, new social situations, noises, sounds as well as some of the more complex skills to master such as expression of feelings and the processing of emotions. These call all be very new, and to some children very overwhelming.

Children also experience common childhood illnesses, can be more susceptible to colds, flu, as well as experience a range of digestive issues as their gut and immune systems are still maturing.

A paediatric naturopath works not only with the child, but also with the parents and carers of the child, emphasising the importance of individualised treatment, while addressing the underlying causes of the illness rather than merely alleviating symptoms.

Key approaches in paediatric naturopathy

The fundamentals of our adult health habits are formed in childhood. A key reason why focusing on health at an early age is so important. A paediatric naturopath treats a child using a range of fundamental philosophies:

  1. Holistic Approach: Paediatric naturopaths view the child as a whole, taking into account physical, mental, emotional, and environmental factors influencing their health.
  2. Functional Testing: It’s hard to know what to treat if you’re only guessing what could be the cause. Functional testing – such as testing for things like food allergies or intolerances, or more comprehensive testing like a child’s microbiome is an important part of the successful treatment of a child.
  3. Natural Remedies: Following proper assessment, treatment can include a range of things such as herbal medicine, nutritional therapy and lifestyle support and advice, allowing the body’s natural healing mechanisms to take over wherever possible.
  4. Prevention: Emphasis is placed on preventive strategies such as healthy diet, adequate sleep and regular physical activity to strengthen the child’s immune system and prevent illness. Natural remedies commonly feature as an added way to support preventative treatment.
  5. Educating parents and caregivers: At times, being a parent is an overwhelming job! Not only is a paediatric naturopath experienced in the specific health needs of children, but they are also ready and willing to share all of their knowledge by educating parents and carers about healthy lifestyle choices and natural remedies so they can actively participate in their child’s healthcare journey.

Integration with conventional care

A paediatric naturopath can add great value as an integrated part of a child’s conventional healthcare providers. Commonly, kids with more complicated health issues may be seeing a range of health professionals including paediatricians or other medical specialists not limited to occupational therapists or speech therapists. Each have a different approach, philosophy, and scope of practice but as a team work well to help provide long-term health solutions for a child.

A paediatric naturopath fits in well with a child’s overall health team, bringing to the party unique training, skills and knowledge specifically focussed around nutrition and natural remedies to assist with the common, on not-so-common, childhood health concerns.

Children’s diets shaping their health 

Diet alone is a key consideration with kids, as this is the place where they get their main vitamins, minerals and nutrients to grow.

A typical Australian child’s diet often includes a mix of various food groups, influenced by cultural, economic, and social factors. However, for some, particularly children who have any level of neurodivergence, diet is also all about sensory sensitivities and behavioural considerations so simply recommending a balanced diet is not always a viable solution.

Dietary behaviours in Australian children is in fact quite alarming. According to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data, fruit and vegetable consumption in Australian children is declining, with fewer children aged 2–17 years meeting the fruit and vegetable recommendations compared to 2017–18[1].

Additionally, there’s a growing prevalence of excessive consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats among Australian children.

This dietary trend poses substantial health risks to children as they age. To address these challenges requires a multi-tiered approach that supports the great work paediatric naturopaths are doing, including public health initiatives, parent education, and even policy interventions to promote healthier eating habits.

The reward of working with children

Working with children is incredibly rewarding and an opportunity to improve long-term health outcomes.

Educating both a child, and their parents on the healing power of food and herbs helps to show the complementary side of healthcare. Building trust and rapport with both children and parents is paramount, tailoring treatments to each child’s unique needs. Whether addressing common ailments like colds and allergies or chronic conditions such as asthma or ADHD, gentle, non-invasive therapies are important in supporting their growing bodies and nurture their innate healing abilities. Working with kids requires patience, creativity, and a deep understanding of developmental stages.

Some children will have doctors and specialists as part of their healthcare plan into adulthood, so showing them the powerful healing side of what exists in nature is both rewarding and inspiring.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022). Dietary behaviour. ABS.

More about the author

Lisa Moane
Lisa Moane
– The Paediatric Naturopath

Lisa is the owner and founder of The Paediatric Naturopath, a leading online Australian clinic focused solely on the care and health needs of children.

Lisa holds a Master’s Degree in Food Science, is a Level 3 qualified SOS Feeding Therapist as well as being a fully qualified Naturopath (BHSc) and Nutritionist (Adv Dip).