For many people, getting dressed usually only requires them to consider what clothes are clean, if they work for the current weather, and if they express the desired appearance. Dressing children includes the same concerns, but for children who need access to G-tubes, ports, and catheters for their medications, hydration, supplemental feeding or any other health need, whether or not an article of clothing was made with these needs in mind tends to take precedence. We understand this, and that is why we make clothes to make these medical needs met both in function, but also in style.
In the presence of various medical conditions, some children use enteral, or tube feeding to deliver partially-processed food directly to the stomach and small intestine. One study describes enteral tube feeding (TF) as an important part of the care of acutely ill children, as well as an essential technique to deliver nutrition to children who have chronic conditions. Kid’s Health notes how gastrostomy tubes (or G-tube) act as artificial feeding canals inserted through the belly that brings nutrition directly to the stomach, and because of the placement of the G- through the child’s belly, children’s clothing typically restricts or exposes the child when accessing the site needed for enteral feeding.
Doctors utilize ports in children as a way to make procedures they utilize much more comfortable for the child. Ports allow for one site to be utilized over time. This does mean that upkeep is necessary, since a port involves long-term access to the inside of the body. As a way to help a child who may have a port for enteral feeding or any other reason, parents should be aware of the benefits associated with buying clothing developed to assist those with ports, because as every child has their own experiences, one child may need a particular clothing feature that others may not. The ease of accessing the port site and the comfort and dignity of the child must be taken into consideration.
For those feeding a child enterally, having discrete access to the feeding site allows for greater accessibility, no matter where feeding may take place. Clothing made for children without enteral feeding needs commonly lacks convenient and comfortable access points for both the child as well as the caretaker. Pieces designed to provide convenience for not only the child needing enteral feeding but also for the caretaker provides the most peace of mind for all involved.
To most effectively accommodate enteral feeding needs, clothing must include segmented closures surrounding possible feeding sites. Articles that have tube openings are a step in the right direction, but those require torso exposure, whether it be from pulling up a shirt or opening the shirt’s closure, can not only be eye-catching, but can also expose a child to both the elements as well as uncleanly sanitary conditions. Keeping in mind different complications and concerns when feeding a child with a tube is crucial, but purchasing clothing that does not let function fall to the wayside of form is a step in the right direction.
Individual needs shouldn’t have to take precedence over individual style; finding the sweet spot between function and form can help anyone to look good and feel even better. Articles like our Charlie/Susie or our Olivia/Nathan, made in the United States, combine the convenience of dressing your child in a onesie with discretion maximized by snap closures. Not only are they up the center of the torso, but also located on the child’s shoulders and pelvis. These pieces allow for a child to lay on their back throughout dressing as well as feeding, helping to minimize discomfort and maximize efficiency, as well as protect the site with layers of soft fabric.
While we have worked to design these clothes to provide your little one with a discrete, sanitary, and comfortable feeding experience, let us know if you think there’s a way we could make such an experience even better. No two childhoods are the same, but even minor tips can help.