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When one is expecting a child, questions about an ideal daycare/third-party care arise. Already during pregnancy, one should look out for a nursery or a child minder who takes care of the child and – based on your living environment (urban or rural) –  it is more or less necessary to plan ahead the necessary steps.

Day care with a tube fed child

Questions about kind of daycare get even more complex when the child has a feeding tube. Mostly, even the thought of letting the child visit any daycare after its difficult start into life or a daily routine based on tube feeds or even recurrent vomiting, sounds completely unthinkable.

Mostly, the daily schedule is filled with many appointments (physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, medical examinations…). Therefore, it is quite common that one of the parents needs to stop working to take care of one’s child. Based on the fact in which country one lives, there might be social welfare who supports the family financially during these times. It might also be of great importance, to officially recognize the handicap of the child, even if this might cause the feeling of uncertainty. This formal recognition might lead to financial help or advantages like a parking permit.

Everyday life with a tube fed child is never easy and the parent who decided to take full-time care of the child needs breaks sometimes. There are a few possibilities to break from the routine. It might be an advantage for the child as well as for the parents to meet other families. One may e.g. visit a play group or other family members or professionals might take care of the child for a certain period of time. Sometimes it is possible, to arrange tube feeds beyond this time if caregives don’t want to/can’t tube-feed the child themselves. A few hours at daycare or kindergarten might ease your life.

“One should not hesitate to ask for help. You may find people who work on integration of handicapped children. I had luck to meet one of these wonderful persons who made sure that our child was allowed to go to nursery a few hours per week.”

mode de garde pour un enfant nourri par sonde

The keyword in this situation is the discourse. Do not hesitate to talk about the tube, explain the management, even if the caregivers won’t participate directly in the tube feeding. This creates trust.

Our biggest fear was that the tube could be pulled out accidentally. This happens quite easily with a nasogastric tube.

The staff in day care center might take time to explain the other children facts about the tube and necessary safety precautions. Children will understand that it is forbidden to touch the tube if it is explained adequately and no secret is made out of the tube. A G tube can be hidden easily and fixed under the clothes. There is also the possibility to inform others about the 3 different types of feeding tubes with an ebook. It is of great importance to offer a telephone number for emergencies around the tube, so everybody feels reassured.

The hours at daycare were so important for our daughter! Even when she didn’t eat, she participated in the meal times with other children, could smell and touch the tube, watch the other children eating and enjoying their meals. I made sure that I tube fed her immediately before she went and after she got home from daycare. So she was able to enjoy her time there without tube feeds.

If you are lucky, a team or a child minder are willing to tube feed your child. In this case, the parents should brief the personnel and help them with tube feeding 2 or 3 times. In some countries, there is special nursing staff who comes to daycare in order to tube feed the child. Many things must be learned: from the handling of the pump towards the parental letting go. All this is a question of trust, organisation and discourse.

Aurélie Charrière