When measuring progress, it is so important to look at much more than the numbers. At Thrive, we encourage parents and medical teams to shift their focus from a number-based measure to a more qualitative measure. Mealtimes should focus on building comfort and connection. This includes initiation, engagement, attention to meals or food, and satiation. When we focus on all of these factors, it is so important to address the family mealtime routines. Many children who are on a feeding tube are not exposed to the family mealtime, which is a time to build on all of these important foundations. Stringent tube-feeding schedules and extended time spent on the tube feeding itself can make sitting down and eating together difficult, but it is such an important step towards a successful wean. The research shows that there are many benefits to family mealtimes including increased social opportunities, decreased risk of obesity, decreased risk of substance abuse, and overall improved relationship with food.
No matter where you are in your tube weaning journey, whether you are thinking about the possibility or in the follow-up portion of your wean, there are so many benefits to a family mealtime. Children who are on a feeding tube specifically benefit from:
When you take the focus off the number of bites or the amount of ounces a child is drinking, you can truly look at other ways to measure success, including:
This can be difficult, and doesn’t happen overnight! Try to work on small goals and talk with your therapist or team about how you can implement this into your everyday routine.