My baby has a feeding tube. What can I do to help her sleep?
Babies with special feeding situations such as g-tubes or g-j tubes should be able to sleep just fine, though there are a few things to consider. First, talk with your child’s health care provider about any concerns you may have. They know you and your child best, and may be aware of special circumstances.
Children with these types of feeding tubes can be on a normal sleep schedule and are subject to the same recommendations about things like bedtime routines and sleep associations as any other child. Try to treat your child as normally as possible and put them down when they are sleepy but awake, as you would sleep train any child.
If the tube is not connected during the night, the main issue might be the comfort of the child when lying on his/her stomach. Of course, all infants should be placed to sleep on their backs anyway; older children will find their most comfortable position on their own.
If the tube is connected for continuous nighttime feeds, other issues may arise. First of all, use tubing at least 24 inches long allows the child freedom of movement during the night. There is often concern that children might become tangled in the tubing, though the occurrence of tangling causing harm to the child is very unlikely. More commonly, the tube becomes occluded (blocked) or the alarm goes off. To prevent this, try securing the tubing to your child’s stomach with medical tape then passing the tubing through the pajama pant leg. Some parents place the backpack with the feeding fluid inside the crib. If you use an IV pole or have the fluid outside the crib, make sure to pass the tubing over the railing of the crib, not through the slats, in case you need to pick up your child during the night.
Some children may experience more gastro-esophageal reflux during the night if they are receiving continuous feeds. To help this situation, you could try raising the head of the crib or bed slightly but putting something small (such as a crib wedge) underneath the mattress. This technique may not work so well, though, if you have an active sleeper who would end up head side down! Some parents have found a way around this by using a type of sling that keeps a baby in position when sleeping on an incline.
You and your baby (or toddler) should still be able to get a good night’s sleep, even with this special situation. Just try to keep the basics of good sleep habits in mind!
More information on this topic can be found here.