The first day of school can be worrisome for any parent, but if you have a child who is reliant on receiving enteral nutrition, you may feel more nervous than others. However, you’re not alone. Many children who rely on enteral nutrition don’t just attend school, they go on to have successful academic careers. To help guide you and your child on that same path, here are six practical tips on tube-feeding in school:
- Before the first day of classes, you will need to fill out an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. These are plans that lay out how to care for a special needs child at school. Include instructions on your child’s feeding regime and how it should be done. You may need to include a doctor’s note or prescription.
- Offer to train school officials on how to feed your child—in fact, train several people, so that if one person is gone there will be someone else who can feed your child.
- Schools may or may not have a policy in place for what happens if a tube is pulled out, so make sure you communicate what to do if that happens.
- There may be times when your child’s feeding pump needs to be turned off. If this is the case, make sure there is a designated adult who can turn it back on.
- You may be able to leave some of the supplies at school. If you do, make sure you talk to whoever is in charge of the feeding about proper cleaning methods. Have the supplies sent back periodically so you can inspect it for cleanliness or breakage.
- Clearly label all food, formula and supplies with your child’s name. Make sure there is a cool place for staff to store the food during the day.
With the proper planning, communication and due diligence, you can ensure that your child continues to receive proper nutrition at school. Johns Hopkins Specialty Infusion Services' enteral nutrition team can provide assistance every step of the way. Call 410-288-8105 with any questions you may have regarding tube feeding at school, or visit the online catalog for when you need to restock your child’s enteral nutrition supplies.