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Managing Your Child’s Tube Feedings at School

Each day, students across the country are tube fed while receiving an education – one of the many benefits of receiving care while living in their community. So when a tube fed child goes to school, it’s important that there is a team of staff who are knowledgeable about their needs and can properly carrying out any processes and routines that are necessary throughout the day.

With a little planning and organization, preparing your child for tube feedings at school can be a smooth process for you and trained administrators. To learn more about what is helpful to keep in mind, we spoke with Alea Chalmers, a PHS registered dietitian who shared her tips for managing tube feeding at school. To make it even easier, we’ve created a document you can download to have easy access to this information.

Tips for parents, caregivers, and school staff

  • Meet with school staff to ensure paperwork is filed and training is properly conducted for child’s feeding and pump schedule (as appropriate), and any other details required to maintain safe care. Educate involved staff on the process & protocols.
  • Write the details of their schedule into their IEP or 504 plan, and update as needed to ensure it’s always accurate.
  • If the child is fed intermittently, try to arrange it around meal or snack time so they can follow a similar schedule as their peers.
  • If the child has continuous feedings and wears a backpack, be aware of time limits. Formula is safe for 4 hours at room temperature anything is added to it (including water), and 8 hours at room temperature if it is a ready to feed product. Pack food or formula with ice packs to keep it safe.
  • Keep your child’s supplies clean and clearly labeled (wondering how to properly clean feeding tube extensions? Find out in our video).
  • If your child eats anything orally, provide specific information on what they can and cannot eat, and any safety measures or risks involved in the process.

Pack a bag of extra supplies your child may need, including:

  • A G-tube. An extra G-tube can be used to keep the stoma site open, even if it is a GJ-tube, until the child can receive appropriate medical attention.
  • Extensions (in case a clog can’t be cleared or it gets leaky)
  • Feeding bags
  • Clog Zapper + instructions for use

Explaining your child’s feeding tube to their classmates

Boy with a feeding tube at the beachBy helping your son or daughter teach their classmates about their feeding tube, you open up the opportunity to answer questions and give kids a better understanding of something they likely haven’t encountered. Arrange a time to go into your child’s class and explain their feeding tube in a very simple, understandable way. (“S/he has a tube that brings food to their stomach, just like you eat to put food in your stomach. The feeding tube helps them to grow big and strong too, just like you when you eat your meals and snacks”).

Looking for an activity to do with the class? We have 9 coloring sheets featuring children with various medical complexities that you can print off and bring along – preview and download them here.

Want to save this information for the future? Download all these tips here.


Originally published: March 27, 2018

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