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Feeding your child with G-tube
All children need nutrients for health, energy, growth and development. These nutrients are calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and water.
Because your child has special needs, some or all of these nutrients will be provided through the tube. How much of these nutrients your child needs will depend on how old your child is, how fast your child is growing and your child’s medical condition. The best way to be sure your child is getting enough of these nutrients is to monitor your child’s growth. You should also have your child’s feeding evaluated at regular times. This can be done by a dietician or doctor.
Nutrition and formulas
There are many formulas or feeding choices for tube feeding. You and your child’s health care providers will choose what’s best for your child.
Infants under 1 year of age
For infants under a year old, expressed breast milk or infant formulas are preferred. They are rich in the nutrients a baby needs. Other liquids, thin baby foods or liquid medicine may also be given through the tube. Give only medicines that your baby’s doctor tells you to give. Your baby’s doctor and dietician will also tell you how and when to add new foods to your baby’s diet.
Feeding time is a special time for your baby. Your baby will like being held close, cuddled, rocked and talked to during feedings.
- It may help to hold your baby in your arm and pin the feeding syringe to your clothes at shoulder level. This lets you use both hands to hold your baby.
- Give your baby a pacifier to suck. Sucking exercises the jaw, promotes the flow of the feedings and satisfies a baby’s need to suck. This will also teach your baby the connection between sucking and a full stomach. Sometimes infants who are fed only through the tube for a long time may forget or lose the desire to eat by mouth. Using a pacifier may help prevent this.
Toddlers, older children and teens
A pediatric formula is used for children ages 1 to 10 years. An adult formula is used for older children and teens. Even though many parents and doctors choose specialized formulas for children who have tube feedings, a homemade blenderized feeding can be used. A dietician can help you plan a recipe that meets all the nutritional needs of your child.
Children enjoy the socialization that surrounds mealtime. Decide if it works best to tube feed your child during mealtimes with your family. If you prefer to tube feed in private you can still have your child socialize when family and friends are eating. There is no right or wrong way to plan the tube feeding. What is important is that you choose the method that works best for your child and your family.