Tips to help you manage Coeliac Disease in infants

The Gut Health Doctor Icon

By Chloe Elliott

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

Coeliac Disease (CD) is an auto-immune condition, affecting around 1% of the UK population, for which currently the only treatment is adhering to a lifelong gluten free (GF) diet. 

Finding out your child has been diagnosed with CD can feel overwhelming, particularly when it is likely that you will have to change the way you prepare and cook meals at home to maintain your child’s health and prevent the resurfacing of any CD-related symptoms. All children should be reviewed by a paediatric dietitian after being diagnosed with CD. During this consultation, the paediatric dietitian will go through the main principles of a GF diet, availability of support and address any questions or concerns you may have. Here are a few tips to help manage life after your child is diagnosed with CD:


Speak with your child’s school to ensure they are aware of the CD diagnosis and discuss further support that will be needed for your child whilst at school. It is important they are aware of cross contamination, how to adapt cookery lessons and how to ensure your child has suitable meals provided whilst both in school and on any school trips coming up. The school should be able to help with arranging gluten free meals and guarantee no cross contamination. Coeliac UK has a School’s pack available which you may find useful to download and take it with you when meeting with your child’s school. Your paediatric dietitian should be able to speak with the school if they need further information and guidance.

GP prescriptions

Depending on where you live, there may be gluten free items (staples such as breads, pasta, flour etc.) available on prescription via your GP. Your dietitian will be able to write them a letter requesting this. These items are available in the supermarket but are generally more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts and all children diagnosed with CD are eligible for free prescriptions so it is worth investigating.


If you have a first-degree relative (e.g. siblings, parents, children) with CD, it is recommended they receive a test for CD given the increased risk of having CD due to the genetic element. 

If your child has been diagnosed, it is advised you get their siblings as well as yourselves as parents tested – even if they are asymptomatic. There is a 10% chance of other family members also having CD.

Adequate micronutrient intake

Balanced nutrition for children is important to maintain growth and brain development. This means that minerals such as calcium and iron are important to think about in CD as these are absorbed in the bowel, which can be temporarily damaged in CD. This intestinal damage will heal over time with good adherence to a gluten free diet but will take time so making sure your child has enough of these is vital, particularly when first diagnosed. Aim for 3 portions of dairy (or calcium fortified dairy free alternatives) each day and regular sources of iron in the diet – look out for GF cereals that are fortified with iron as a non-haem source as well as dried fruit and green leafy vegetables (aim 2-3 portions per day).

Going on holiday

If you are staying in a hotel, contact them beforehand to see what support they can offer during your visit. Self-catering may be an easier option as it allows you to be in control at mealtimes and prevent cross-contamination (travel tip: take some toaster bags in your suitcase so you can use any toasters in the accommodation). Pack some GF snacks, your child likes, so that you have something available when you are out and about in the daytime. For when you’re eating out, allergy cards are available in different languages on Coeliac UK so take a few with you so you are still able to communicate the message clearly.


Overall, the key to managing a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease is knowledge and preparation so don’t be afraid to seek advice from health professionals and support networks such as Coeliac UK. If you need further 1 to 1 advice for your child with CD, book in to see me in clinic. 

This article was authored by Chloe Elliott, a paediatric specialist dietitian. Do you need support with a symptom, condition or goal? You can book an appointment with Chloe Elliott or any member of our specialist team here.


Related articles

Follow us

The Gut Health newsletter shown on an iPad

Sign up for our free newsletter & gut health guide

Not sure where to start on your gut health transformation? Sign up for free and we’ll empower you every month with the latest educational blogs, gut-loving recipes, research updates and helpful resources delivered straight to your inbox. You’ll also receive a downloadable guide with an intro to gut science, practical advice and exclusive recipes. Lots of support and no spam.