There are many different reasons why some kids with special needs have trouble getting the proper nourishment through the mouth. A child in this case may need to use a feeding tube in order to get the right amount of nutrients.
A popular method of feeding people through a tube is with supplemental nutrition drinks and formulas. Ensure, PediaSure, and Boost are some of the popular drinks used to help increase calorie and protein intake. These are a convenient way to get a good amount of the recommended daily nutrients.
A big problem for many children using these drinks is the potential side effects they can have. With vomiting and constipation as two of the more common reactions, many parents needed other alternatives for feeding their child. While convenient, nutritional drinks could actually have more sugar than healthy ingredients and can lack the same nutrition regular food contains.
Before store bought formulas became popular in the 1970s, people with feeding tubes were fed with homemade blended food. Using this option to feed their special needs child, parents saw a decrease in constipation and vomiting as compared to using the supplemental nutrition drinks. Blenderized food is also easier on the gastrointestinal tract because it’s digesting real food, allowing a higher tolerance for more volumes of food.
It may seem like using blenderized food is the clear choice, however there are risks associated with using this option for feeding tubes. When blending food, it’s difficult to get it to a consistency thin enough to pass through a feeding tube, which poses a risk of clogging. Also, it is important to make sure your child is properly hydrated and that he/she is getting the proper nutrients in his/her prepared meals.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both feeding tube diets. And depending on a child’s special needs, the dietary requirements could be different from the next. Speak with your child’s dietitian to see which option would be the best fit.
Don’t have the time to blend your own food? Check out Real Food Blends for some great pre made blended meals!