On this week’s episode of the Tube to Table podcast, Heidi and Jennifer are talking about the “where” of tube weaning. Where should tube weaning take place? What are the pros and cons to different weaning settings? They’ll answer all of your questions and talk through the important factors to consider when making a choice for your child’s tube wean. At Thrive, we believe children should be weaned at home whenever possible, but that may not always be possible for some families. Different settings include hospitals, clinics, or through remote treatment. This can be an overwhelming decision for many families, but this is one of the most important factors to really look into. This week’s episode will go through all of the upsides and downsides of different settings to help families make the decision for themselves.
At Thrive, we work with families through both remote and in-person services. For the in-person weaning programs, our therapists either travel to the family’s home or the family travels to one of our locations and stays in a home-like environment. The two main settings where a tube wean can take place is a clinic or the home environment. Although at Thrive we believe strongly that therapy should take place in the home environment, we wanted to break down the pros and cons to each setting so families can make a clear decision.
The clinic setting is one of the most common and traditional approaches to tube weaning. In most cases, these programs are referred to as “intensive feeding programs” rather than tube weaning. This could be in either an outpatient clinic where the family travels everyday or in the inpatient setting where the child lives at the hospital.
What are the downsides of this setting?
It is very rare, but there may be a few cases where the clinic could feel like the best case scenario. We encourage families to look at these reasons and think about how this could be worked through in the home environment.
Could there be downsides to being home?
It can feel overwhelming when there is so much happening around food in the home environment, especially with other children around. To be able to have all of the feelings around food unravel can be hard. At Thrive, our therapists are there to help coach families through that difficult time and encourage them to work through the difficult times both during and in between meals.
The Upsides of the Home Environment:
It is easier to have a long-term view at home when you can see how your child’s eating will play a role in your daily routine. The therapy can work around your work schedule, focus on siblings, and include other people in the therapy. Home is almost always best and we firmly believe that investing your time and energy while at home, although it may be difficult, will be better in the long term.
The Middle Ground: Remote Weaning:
Remote weaning with support is something that we do at Thrive, when it is appropriate for the family and child. This involves a detailed assessment of the child’s relationship with food as well as where the parents are with helping to build their child’s trust and comfort around the mealtime. For some children, it can be doable and often times, helps the family by continuing their normal routine.
It is important to be aware that although it can be a suggestion, there are also many dangerous ways to do a remote wean. Weaning remotely WITHOUT the family as the focus, without coaching the families, and without having the child’s communication at the forefront is dangerous. If you don’t have all of those things with your program or therapist, it is important to look at other options. If you can achieve the safety parameters and make sure whoever you are working with is educated on the long-term research behind responsive feeding, then it may be a choice for your family.
Please reach out if you have any other specific questions about the location of tube weaning and why it is so important.