Some children have problems eating and drinking or taking in anything by mouth. There are various medical causes for this issue; one of the most common solutions is to give them enteral feeding or tube feeding.
Enteral feeding is done through a tube that is inserted directly into the stomach. A nutritionally complete formula is directly delivered to the stomach or intestine. It takes a while to adjust to the process, but eventually, it will be a part of your normal routine.
What matters here is that you have the skill needed to administer enteral feedings and that your child understands why this is necessary. This feeding process doesn’t come naturally to a child, so you will need to prepare your son or daughter for the procedure. Below are six tips that will help you.
- Explain the purpose of the feeding tube. Because it does not look natural, your child may be irritated by the tube. It is your job to let them know it’s importance and function. It is important that they do not try to pull it out even if they may be bothered by it at first. But if they accidentally do, be sure you are prepared to replace it at home. Also, teach them not to touch or play with it. Excessive touching or rubbing in the area around the tube may cause irritation and infection.
- Share the feeding plan. A lot of healthcare professionals will be involved in the tube feeding program of your child. This may include the family doctor, a pediatrician, nurses, dietitians, and so on. But the most important person who needs to get involved is your child. Explain what is going to happen and how. Discuss the time and type of feed and repeat why this is essential. Doing this together creates a better rhythm for the feeding and eventually it will be a normal part of your daily routine.
- Make them understand that the tube is not a limitation. Adjusting to life with a feeding tube may take a while and there are potential complications but your child can still do anything. They can have fun, play outdoors, go on holidays, and even swim! It is all a matter of preparation and looking after the feeding tube. But other than that, it does not stop and should not stop your child from having amazing experiences.
- Instruct your child to report any pain or signs of infection. Ask your child to immediately tell you of any pain and discomfort or changes at the site of the tube insertion. Report redness, tenderness, change in skin quality or temperature, and unusual drainage. Bloating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and fever should also have your attention. It is important to address any problem quickly.
- Be honest. In some situations, there is no certainty on how long tube feeding will be needed. It depends on the medical condition of your child. Sometimes, it does not ever end. Not all children receiving enteral feeding will learn to take food and fluid orally. So, if he or she asks about a time, tell the truth.
- Handle other people well. There will be times when you must feed your child in public. If you have heard stories from breastfeeding mothers, you know that people sometimes do not react very well to what they do not know or understand. Handle these situations properly so your child will not feel negatively about it. Remember, it does not matter how other people feel about you giving your son or daughter tube feeding. This is how your child must eat and if anyone has a problem with it, that is their issue, not yours.