Whether it’s part of temporary care or a long-term solution, enteral feeding for your child can be an overwhelming decision and an even more overwhelming experience. Mainlining food directly into the stomach or small intestine via a tube in the nose or abdomen doesn’t come naturally. For parents walking into this unchartered territory, we offer these pointers to ease the process for you and your child:

  • For infants, it’s especially important to help them remain upright or inclined following a feeding to prevent food from being regurgitated.
  • While your baby is tube feeding, offer them a pacifier. This will help them make the connection between oral sensations and the feeling of a full stomach, easing the transition from tube to oral ingestion if and when they’re able. An older child should sit at the table or in a high chair during family meal time to associate the event with feeling full for the same reason.
  • As you add formula to the syringe during a feeding, refill the syringe each time before it’s completely empty. This will prevent air from reaching the stomach, which can create gas and stomach discomfort post-feed.
  • Take special care of the opening in the skin for the tube called the stoma. Cleaning around the area with soapy water two or three times a day can remove leakage and crust, prevent skin irritation and infection, and ensure that the tube is working correctly.
  • Be alert for signs that the tube was inserted incorrectly or accidentally dislodged. Slower heart rate, labored breathing, and vomiting all indicate insertion issues that need immediate attention.

Our specialists at Johns Hopkins Pediatrics at Home want to work alongside you to help your child thrive on enteral care. Don’t hesitate to give our trained staff a call for any questions or concerns that you have as they arise. also feel free to let us know of any questions you may have in the comments section below.

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