Many parents have asked, “how can we continue camping with a child who is tube fed?” The answer is, simply, to take the feeding pump or supplies with you. Feeding is hardly different than feeding at home and very similar to feeding on daily outings.
You will need a few extra supplies, and you will likely need to make arrangements for accessing electricity, at least some of the time. In addition, you will need a cooler that is continuously filled with ice.
What do I need to bring camping to feed my child who is tube fed?
Make a list of the supplies you use to feed at home, such as a feeding pump, feeding bags, extension sets, syringes, tape, gauze, or dressings, and of course your emergency kit. See our suggestions on the Traveling page.
- Pump charging cord
- Power extension cord
- Bottled water
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Formula, pre-made blenderized foods that are frozen in glass jars, or commercial blends
- Can opener, if needed, or anything else you normally use to prepare your child’s food
- Storage container if not all of the formula is used at once
- Cooler filled with ice or ice packs
How do I feed my child who is tube fed while camping?
Formula feeding: feed as usual and store leftover formula in a container in the cooler.
Blenderized diet feeding: make and freeze meals at home in glass jars and then load the frozen jars into the cooler. The meals stay frozen for most of the camping trip. In the morning, take the food out for the next day, let it thaw, then replace into the cooler. Before pouring into the feeding bag, shake the jar to mix the blend. Use a whisk to stir the food around to smooth it out if needed. Use baby wipes to clean up spills. Bring a backup, such as formula, a shelf-stable blend, or stage 1 baby food, in case of spoilage.
Flushing: flush the extension tube with bottled water, rinse the syringe with bottled water and put away. Use a new syringe each day. If you remove the extension tube after every feeding at home, flush the extension tube again with bottled water and set aside in a plastic bag for the next feeding. You can also put the extension tube in a plastic bag and store in the cooler until the next feed.
How do I charge the feeding pump?
If possible, reserve a campsite with electricity and simply charge the pump like you do at home, either between feeds or overnight with the extension cord plugged into the electricity box and routed through the tent to her pump. If your campsite does not have electricity, you can charge the pump in the group pavilion between feeds. Charging in little bits, more often throughout the day, will keep the pump adequately charged.
You can also use a car adapter to charge the pump in an emergency. Several different car charger options are available for purchase.
We want to go to the lake or hiking or on a day trip, how do we keep the food cold without frozen ice packs?
One option is to take Ziploc bags and fill with ice. Wrap the bags in paper towel to absorb any melted water. Place food and ice bags in your day trip cooler to keep the food bag cold. This method would be preferable if you are in a remote camping location without electricity or a way to freeze ice packs.
Another option is to take ice packs and ask the camp desk to keep the ice packs in their freezer overnight to stay frozen.
Relax and have fun. Camping with a child who is tube fed is not difficult, and with a little extra preparation can be done with great ease.