How does my child's diet need to change before dialysis?

Before dialysis, some diet changes may be needed for your child. Phosphorus usually is limited at this time, which means less dairy products. Your child’s appetite may begin to decrease, making it important to encourage him or her to eat. Infants will probably need a special formula to increase calories.

Sometimes the amount of fluid your child may have is limited. Despite your best efforts at helping your child meet her nutritional needs within necessary diet restrictions, it may be necessary to start supplemental enteral feedings or “tube feedings” to help your child with chronic kidney disease grow and gain weight appropriately.

Don’t be discouraged if this happens to your child. It does not mean you are a bad parent or can’t provide your child with an appropriate diet. It is just sometimes very difficult for children with chronic kidney disease to find enough foods they are allowed to eat that they actually like. Often, once tube feedings are started, some of the conflict that may occur between a parent and a child related to diet is decreased. As kidney function decreases before starting dialysis, nausea and vomiting may become more common. If this happens, tell your child's doctor and dietitian.

Although your child may be meeting his or her nutritional needs adequately, it is not uncommon for children with chronic kidney disease to be much smaller than other children of the same age. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to consider the use of recombinant growth hormone to optimize your child’s growth. This requires a shot daily or weekly to stimulate better growth. Talk with your child’s doctor and/or renal dietitian about any concerns you may have about your child’s height.

Prior to starting dialysis, your child with kidney disease may also need extra iron and erythropoietin (or EPO) to treat the anemia frequently seen in people with chronic kidney disease. When children are anemic or have “low blood counts,” this can affect their energy level and appetite. It is important to treat the anemia so that your child will have more interest in eating.

Continue Learning about Dialysis


Healthy kidneys remove waste from your blood and produce hormones your body needs. If your kidneys fail, you either need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to perform many of the functions ...

of the kidney. Dialysis can help prevent problems resulting from kidney failure and it allows people with kidney failure to live productive lives. Dialysis filters your blood, and like a health kidney, removes waste from your blood. Patients using dialysis are also required to follow a strict diet in order to stay healthy. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. There are different advantages and disadvantages with both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would work better for you.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.