Our Approach to Feeding Tubes
If withholding food was the solution, then many of the children would not have been put on a feeding tube in the first place (although some children receive feeding tubes because they are unsafe to eat orally). We don’t believe that this strategy is an ethical one to use, because weight loss is detrimental to a child’s well-being.
While tube feeds do interfere with hunger cycles, it takes three to four months of being 100% orally fed for a normal hunger cycle to be completely established after the prolonged use of a feeding tube.
Making Cuts in Enteral Feeds
We start out by arranging as much of the tube feeds overnight. As intake increases orally, the tube feeds are decreased accordingly. It is much easier to get things done without the complications that arise from tube feeds, so we work quickly to get oral intake to where it needs to be.
Our Time Frame
It takes us approximately three days to one and a half weeks to take a child completely off a feeding tube. When we make any cuts in tube feeds, those cuts first need to be replaced orally.
Once your child is off the tube, we continue to refine and adjust the feeding protocol until feedings become stable enough for parents to be trained. This process typically takes between one and a half to two and a half weeks.
When stability has been achieved, we fade in parents to conduct the feedings. In a tube feeding case, training one feeder usually takes between one to two weeks (on average). We prefer to train only one parent to limit any complications regarding intake, but understand that this may be an impracticality or even an impossibility for you. If having only one feeder is a problem, we will do our best to bring more than one parent up to speed on feedings.
How We Do It
1. We don’t cut any corners. Our sessions last as long as needed and we do not take any days off until the program has been completed. Treatment is a commitment that goes both ways.
2. We don’t undercut feeding goals to make it easier on ourselves. Our goal will always be to completely eliminate tube feedings before the treatment is completed. We never send people home with partial tube feeds.
3. We do it our way. While we base some of our techniques on peer-reviewed research, much of what we do has been developed in house by qualified professionals who have years of training and experience.
4. We don’t stop making adjustments after you get home. Some of our clients experience difficulties once feedings move to the home. When these problems come up, we are quick to make adjustments because even small issues that persist can become larger down the road.
To further improve feedings after treatment, we also make changes as the trend in mealtime behaviors progresses.