Should I tube feed my child whilst they are awake or asleep?

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Many families I meet have found that the only way to tube feed their child so they don’t vomit is to feed them whilst they are asleep. Other families are put on a ‘prescription’ of 3 or 4 hourly tube feeds – even when their child is past the early months of life and therefore this ‘prescription’ is carried out whether the child is awake or asleep, in the car or wherever else they may be.

It is wonderful to have the flexibility of being able to feed wherever you are – in between appointments, on the long drive to the hospital, whilst waiting at school pick up – I do understand this convenience. What the convenience does however, is take away the opportunity for the children to learn all the many skills that are required to be a successful, competent eater and drinker.

Although a child may be tube fed, the tube feeding months, or sometimes years, are valuable to teach everything else there is to know about eating and drinking. The more time and practice a little one has with sitting at a table, learning to wait, learning to tolerate and interact with food around them, watching other people eat and drink, becoming used to the smells and sights of food – the more comfortable and confident they will be in this environment.

Our bodies are designed to do most of our digestion when we are awake and burning off the calories we are consuming. When children are tube fed whilst asleep they wake up suddenly ‘full’ with no idea really how this occurred.

Instead of trying to fit in multiple therapy and health appointments, food play, mealtime experiences and tube feeding on top of LIFE – try rolling it all into mealtimes and letting the natural family experience lead the way. If you’re unsure how to make this work for your little one, due to constant vomiting; slow growth; the requirements of other family members and life in general, I would love to help you through this really important and valuable time (https://livelyeaters.com.au/emily-lively-director-speech-pathologist/).

 

Emily Lively

Lively Feeding Therapist