One of the early and more difficult issues that parents face with tube feeding is feed intolerance. Feed intolerance may present as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, hives or rashes, retching, frequent burping, gas bloating, or abdominal pain. In very young children, prolonged crying and difficulty sleeping may be the only symptoms.
What is feed tolerance and intolerance?
Feed tolerance is how well a child tolerates feeds. A child who is comfortable and happy during and after tube feeds is tolerating them well. If a child is uncomfortable, agitated, unhappy, retching, gagging, vomiting, swallowing hard, or experiencing diarrhea or excessive gas may not be tolerating feeds well. The key to feed intolerance is that it is a recurring pattern. The child pretty consistently will experience these things with tube feeds.
The initial feeding schedule should be seen as a starting point. It is very common that adjustments and changes will need to be made to make the child more comfortable with their tube feeds. It is common for parents to panic when their child isn’t tolerating feeds. It is important to remember that changes can (and should) be made to the tube feeding regimen.