The goal of providing nutrition to a child is to support growth and development. This may come from food or fluid taken by mouth, a tube feeding or sometimes both. A healthy diet is more than just “food” – it provides fuel as well as the building blocks to keep or restore health and to help with healing.
Maintaining a healthy diet and good nutrition is important for everyone, but is crucial to the child who has an illness, is receiving certain medical treatments, is recovering from surgery, or who is not gaining weight and growing like other children the same age. A child’s body may be working extra hard to restore good health, and this may increase his or her nutrient needs. Some children may also have special needs such as digestive problems or food allergies that affect their food or formula choices. Your healthcare professional will consider all of these factors when deciding the type of formula and amount needed each day. Good nutrition is important to support your child’s needs. The nutrients needed by the body include:
These nutrients work together to maintain and build body tissue and provide energy for your child’s body. Normally, these nutrients are provided by eating a variety of foods. However, because of your child’s special needs, he or she is getting their nutrition in a liquid form through a tube.
There are many ways to make sure your child is getting the right types and amounts of nutrients, including:
- Growth charts – tracking weight and height for your child over time
- Blood tests – to see blood levels of certain factors like iron, proteins or blood glucose
- Checking skin, bones, hair and teeth for overall health and development
Your healthcare team will set up a care plan to monitor how your child is doing with their tube feeding, including tracking his or her weight and height to make sure the nutrition in the tube feeding is supporting your child’s growth and overall needs.