Children with complex medical needs sometimes require help to get the nutrition their body needs for survival. When this is the case, a feeding tube can be a quality of life enhancing or even life saving device. Hearing that your child needs a feeding tube can be quite scary. However, understanding why your child needs the device and the benefits it will offer can help to make the situation less frightening and easier for parents to cope with.
My Child Needs a Feeding Tube
If you’re told that your child needs a feeding tube, here are some things to consider.
- Is the child using a lot of energy to eat and drink?
- Can your child safely consume enough food for proper growth and development?
- Are options other than a feeding tube possible so that your child can catch up in weight and height?
- Does your child have a complex medical problem that makes it difficult for them to eat and drink on a healthy, regular schedule?
Types of Pediatric Feeding Tubes
After having a conversation with your pediatrician that includes answering the above questions, you’ll have a better idea about whether or not a feeding tube is the right choice. If it is, different types are available. The right choice will likely depend on your child’s medical condition as well as whether the feeding tube will be used for all food consumption or simply to supplement daily food intake. The options available include:
- Gastrostomy (G) tube. This is inserted directly into the stomach
- Jejunostomy (JT) tube. This is inserted directly into the intestine
- Nasojejunal tube. This runs from the nose down to the intestine
Depending on which tube is the best option and what your child’s nutritional needs are, formula will be fed to your child in single doses on a specified schedule, multiple times each day. Alternately, the formula may be fed continuously throughout the day through the use of a feeding pump.
Quality of Life with a G Tube, JT Tube or Nasojejunal Tube
Having a feeding tube shouldn’t mean that your child is left out of family meals. In fact, if they receive doses multiple times per day, you may be able to schedule those doses during family meals. Then, have the child sit with the family at the dinner table to enjoy mealtimes with you. For any feedings that occur outside of your normal meal times, have the child sit quietly – perhaps reading a book, watching television or completing homework – while they receive their dose of nutrients.
Children who have a feeding tube can continue to participate in most activities. After insertion, it will need about 10 days to heal before the child swims, takes a bath or participates in more rigorous sports. Use care if your child will participate in any very rigorous or contact sports, and always check with their doctor before giving an okay to the activity.
While the thought of a feeding tube can be intimidating, taking the time to inform yourself about how it works and what its purpose is helps to make the process easier. As you’re adjusting to caring for the tube and especially during the healing period after it is inserted, having the help of a professional pediatric home health provider can be quite beneficial. Salus Homecare Salt Lake City is here to help. Our highly qualified nurses can provide the support your child needs to continue to live a normal, healthy life even with a more complex medical condition. If you have questions, contact us to schedule a complimentary, no obligation consultation.