Young smiling child in wheelchair

Children who are wheelchair or bed bound present particular problems both in giving them the food they need (because as many as 90% have swallowing issues as well), but also in determining just how much they need, because they aren't using up calories and nutrients in the same way as children who are active and needing more energy.

Child in wheelchair taking nutrition

We are truly amazed by the relationship of parents and their children who are confined to a wheelchair or bed (and the parents of children with other neurological or developmental problems as well). These parents are real superheroes or martyrs, who have so much to teach the world. But they don't usually see themselves that way. They merely consider themselves as loving parents who have been gifted with a special child who needs their constant care and support. Not that they don't get frustrated or angry or tearful. But somehow they manage.

Because the majority of children who are wheelchair or bed bound have a difficult time eating, special emphasis must be placed on how the feeding is accomplished. The difficulties determine the strategies and techniques needed, and they in turn, have a tremendous impact on the foods--even for the child who can eat by mouth.

Woman blending home brew for extra nutrition

Many children just aren't able to eat all that they need and so their nutrition suffers. This is particularly true for children with developmental delays.

Obviously, children who require a tube to be fed need more help than with just the tube and the feeding. They have their underlying problems. and it sometimes takes the parents and caregivers a while to be comfortable with all that means emotionally and with doing the work of caring for the child.

It's not easy in any aspect.

enteral nutrition syringe

When foods can be eaten safely, tube feedings may merely supplement the child's own nutrition. The caregivers can continue to feed the child actively. This dual feeding method (by mouth and when needed, by tube) provides the child, parents and caregivers great satisfaction. Mealtimes improve because there is no longer any worry about what's consumed. The need to force down medication or nourishment is now replaced by using the tube.