Back-to-School Tube Feeding

Kids walk to school with masks on
Help educate yourself and others as well as learn tips on how to help prepare your child for the return to in-person education.

“Heading back to school is a stressful time for everyone, especially if your child relies on a feeding tube for nutrition. Being active in the planning process and communicating openly with the team at school can help make it a successful school year. Don’t forget to rely on your medical team to help you advocate and educate within the school system as well,” said registered dietitian with CHC Solutions, Inc., Gina Salvatori.

Informing the School of IEPs and 504 Plans

First, ensure your child’s school is aware of the feeding tube and knows their feeding regime. Make sure at least two people on staff are informed and trained on tube feeding.

According to the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, you should do this by specifying your child’s needs in the school’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. The 504 Plan is designed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. Learn more about the IEP and 504 Plan here.

Providing Safety Instructions

Also, be sure to give the school directions on safe handling procedures:

  • Wash your hands before touching anything associated with the child’s feeding set
  • Wear gloves when needed
  • Do not allow the tube site to be touched by students

In addition, update yourself on the school’s emergency policy. As a result, you can be aware and ready for an emergency situation that may arise.

Tips for Tube Feeding at School

There are a number of things you can do to help make the transition from using a feeding tube at home to school easier:

  • Research your school’s rules on feeding practices.
  • Label and clean your child’s medical supplies before sending them to school.
  • Ensure staff understand how to troubleshoot pump alarms.
  • Have a dedicated person who is responsible for turning on your child’s feeding tube in the event it is turned off for a bus ride or activity.
  • Provide emergency contacts and an emergency G-tube kit.
  • Limit your child’s time spent away from class activities. Try to use natural transitions between class activities to provide tube feeding care.
  • Finally, snack and mealtimes can be important for socialization. Make sure your child has the emotional and social support they need at school.

Preparing Students and Staff

If possible, try to arrange for an educational presentation on tube feeding for the class.  Your child may better adapt to school if their classmates are aware of and understand their situation.

In order to prepare staff, you may want to construct a care manual. Include detailed instructions and essential information. You can provide copies to teachers, the school nurse, the principal and other faculty and staff.

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.