In my previous posts we talked at length about food refusal. If you have tried all of the tips and tricks to get more calories into your baby naturally and it is not working your pediatrician might suggest a temporary tube feeding. This can be very scary for parents but remember, your primary goal is to get your child properly nourished.
There are two types of tube feedings that are most commonly used in children with severe acid reflux. The Nasogastric (NG) tube is one that is placed through the baby’s nose and down into the stomach. The G-tube or gastric tube is placed into the stomach through an incision in the abdomen. The NG tube is often for short term feeding issues and the G-tube might be placed for an issue that is more ongoing. Both allow feedings to be given through the tube and don’t require the infant to feed in order to be nourished.
If you have a child with severe oral aversions or if your child is having a surgery like the Nissen to treat the acid reflux disease then they may place a G-tube at that time. That does not mean that your child will always require this tube. The amount of time a child stays on a feeding tube varies from one case to another. Most of the time the physician will want to see that the child will be able to eat enough on their own before they pull the tube. It can help to work with a feeding therapist while your child is being tube fed to “teach” them how to eat again.
While scary, it is important to remember that the tube is providing nourishment that is required for proper growth. Talk with your child’s doctor about any concerns the tube presents and how to properly care for your child’s feeding tube. It can also help to join a parent support group to talk with other families dealing with a feeding tube. Hopefully this time will be short lived and your child will be eating on their own very soon.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and graduate work in public health nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.