Have you had your doctor suggest you get a feeding tube to feed your child? If you’re feeling a flurry of emotions, from sadness to worry to complete panic, you’re not alone. Around 200, 000 American children use feeding tubes to satisfy certain, or all of their nutritional requirements.
This means that many other parents understand exactly what you’re feeling.
“Tube-feeding could be a very difficult decision to make,” explains Garey Noritz, M.D., a pediatrician and the chief of the extensive healthcare program of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “Many parents believe they’ve committed a mistake when their child is struggling with eating or eating, but that’s not the situation. The feeding tube is an instrument that is used to ensure that a child is healthy and well-nourished. It’s available for us to use for as long as we require it.”
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a deep breath. “There might be a learning curve to get through,” says Dr. Noritz. “But feeding tubes will help your child develop and flourish.”
Here’s how to start you off.
What is the reason my child might need to eat with tubes?
As per the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, There are over 300 diseases that need children to receive nutritional aid via tube feeding. “There are a variety of reasons children might have trouble swallowing the food they eat,” explains Julie Sanville, D.O., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “One major reason is the premature birth and there are times when anatomical differences could hinder eating abilities too. It could also be due to an allergic condition, genetic issues, or digestive issues, to mention a few.”
Sanville. Sanville also notes that certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis could also be a reason to consider the use of a feeding tube. According to Dr. Sanville adds, “Children with significant mental or behavioral health issues, such as sensory disorders, extreme anxiety or avoidant restrictive food intake issues, might struggle with feeding or even refuse to eat at all.”
The main point regardless of the child may require the aid of a tube feeding system: It all boils down to math. “Kids require greater quantities of calories that they burn each day in order to gain weight.” Dr. Sanville.
Are tube feedings permanent?
Not necessarily. Children suffering from serious medical issues might require feeding tubes the rest of their life, but for other kids, it’s only temporary, says the doctor. Noritz.
“For certain children who are eating well, their appetite improves with time,” he explains. “Intensive therapy for feeding can be able to get them off their tubes and into regular meals eaten by mouth.” Other children could create a hybrid eating style with a portion of their meals eaten through the mouth, and the remainder via tubes.
How does a tube for feeding function?
Tubes for feeding come in two basic types: those that offer nutrition through the nose and ones that pass through the stomach. Both types deliver liquid food items from a bag or a syringe straight into the body of your child through tubes that connect to a port referred to as”button. “button.”
However scary that may be, tube-feeding is an easy, simple procedure: Hang the bag on an attached hook to the wall (or in the case of older children traveling, put it inside a specially-designed backpack) while a pump pumps the formula into the tube exactly at the right spot. A few kids are fed bolus — or meal-sized meals every few hours, whereas others receive smaller, constant meals during the day, or at night.
Here’s the information you need to be aware of about the different kinds of feeding tubes and the placement of feeding tubes:
- Nasal tubes. These go into your child’s body via the nose, through the esophagus, and through the stomach (NG tubes), and directly to the small intestinal tract (ND as well as NJ tubes). They’re utilized to provide assistance in getting medicines or nutrients in their system– for instance, following surgery. Your doctor will put these tubes in the course of an outpatient appointment.
- Gastrointestinal or gastronomy tubes. The most commonly used types of feeding tubes are employed for children who require assistance in preparing food for a longer time frame, at least 3 months. They are inserted into the abdomen of your child, and then inserted into the stomach (G tubes or PEG tubes) or the intestines (GJ or J tubes). The child is taken into the hospital to undergo a brief procedure, followed by a couple of days of surveillance. Doctor. Noritz acknowledges this particular time can be a difficult experience for parents. “Even although it’s a normal procedure for doctors but we are aware that it’s always a major issue with parents.”
What foods will my child get via the tube?
The physician and nutritionist in finding the ideal food choices to feed your baby. “For babies,” explains Filomena Kersey, a registered dietitian for children in Dr. Sanville’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock team “we always prefer to use breast milk at least in part. We can also use a standard or specialized formula for example or one that’s created for by a baby who has a food allergy or difficulty in the absorption of fats.”
For children older than that they can cover across the spectrum, says Kersey. “We pick a formula based on what the child’s body can take and what the root medical problem might be. There are many options.”
Kersey recommends caution when using homemade tube feeding formulas. “You should be very aware of the safety of food,” she explains, noting that some homemade formulas will expire faster than those you purchase. “For certain kids, it may be difficult to satisfy all their nutritional needs using homemade formulas. If you’re considering mixing your own meals it’s best to consult with an experienced dietician.”
How can I maintain and cleanse the tube?
Cleaning the tube and administering feeds aren’t difficult, but they can require some education.
“After several weeks cleaning the tube of your child will become a routine activity you’ll be doing every day,” says Dr. Sanville and adds that you’ll first learn how to take care of the tube when your child is at the hospital through working with the baby doll that has tubes attached. You’ll then begin to work on the tube of your child under the supervision of a nurse. The doctor. Sanville notes that, when you’re home, you’re never at your own. You’ll come home with an abundance of details (and you’ll likely be able to have your child’s caregivers available to assist you when you require it).
Cleaning the tube of your child is easy It’s as simple as using a clean and tidy feeding bag each day every meal, and at the end of each one then flush the tube’s contents with a syringe filled with water. After that, you’ll wash the other parts with warm soapy water.
Are there any risks I should be aware of?
Fortunately, according to the doctor. Noritz, major problems that arise from feeding tubes are fairly uncommon. “Most of the issues are fairly minor, such as irritation at the button or the leakage.” This is why you’ll receive specific instructions that guide you through each step of administering and taking care of children’s tube feeding. “Nobody could have been an expert when they first rode in a car or bicycle. It’s possible to do this.”
Don’t forget to contact your child’s caregivers to ask the tiniest of questions. “Parents like knowing that they can contact us at any time of the day,” says Rebecca Desrosiers, R.N., a pediatric nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, which is on Dr. Sanville’s group. “If they’re unsure about something, they’re able to snap the image and send it to us, and we’ll help them understand the problem. No matter what their issue or question we’re here to assist.”