Blenderized tube feeds are tube feeding formula made from real food.
Homemade blenderized tube feeds (HBTF)
Speak with your pediatrician and a dietitian before starting a homemade blenderized tube feed.
HBTF may be safe for your child if:
- They are at least 6 months old
- Their doctor has confirmed that they are medically stable
- They receive bolus feeds through a G-tube
- Their medical nutrition therapy needs can be met with real food
- You have or can access the equipment and training needed to safely transition to HBTF
Some children who do not meet all these criteria may still benefit from HBTF. Ask your pediatrician or dietitian about it.
HBTF require more times to prepare.
It is generally true that safely preparing and storing a HBTF takes more time and planning than using a commercial formula. We can help you determine if they are safe for your child and we can discuss what is involved with HBTFs. Then, only you can determine if they are feasible and realistic for your family.
HBTF require more resources to prepare.
If your child's current formula is covered, it is true that changing to a HBTF will increase your expenses. However, if your child's current formula is not covered, changing to a HBTF may in fact decrease your expenses. Only you can determine if they are feasible and realistic for your family.
HBTF have a higher risk of food-borne illness.
Following good food safety practices decreases the risk of food borne illnesses:
- Clean your hands, your workspace, your tools and your food well.
- Cook foods to the correct temperature.
- Store your HBTF in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
HBTF have a higher risk of nutritionally inadequate diet.
Dietitians can help you develop a HBTF recipe template that is nutritionally adequate for your child.
HBTF have a higher risk of clogging the feeding tube.
HBTF are generally thicker than commercial formulas, so there is a higher risk of clogging the feeding tube. Using a high-powered blender (such as Vitamix® or Blendtec®) and/or straining your HBTF will help decrease the risk of clogging the feeding tube.
When prepared adequately, HBTF have many potential benefits:
- They provide enhanced nutritional variety
- They can be tailored to your child's specific nutritional needs
- They can be tailored to your family's personal, cultural or religious values around food
- They may improve feeding tolerance and decrease gastrointestinal discomfort
- They may help facilitate the transition to an oral diet
- They support the parent-child feeding relationship
- If your child's current formula is not covered, changing to a HBTF may decrease your expenses
If your child needs to be admitted to BC Children's Hospital (PDF), they may continue to receive a HBTF if it is medically safe to do so. We are not able to prepare HBTF, so you will be responsible for preparing and providing your child's HBTF for the duration of their stay.
If it is not medically safe for your child to receive a HBTF during their hospital stay, or if you are not able to prepare and provide your child's HBTF, an appropriate commercial formula will be offered.
Emergencies can happen at any time. If your child is on a HBTF, having a backup plan is prudent for situations where preparing and storing HBTF is not safe or not possible. Options may include:
- Having a supply of jars or pouches of commercial baby food
- Having a supply of commercial food-based formula
If you are interested in offering your child a food-based formula, but preparing a blenderized tube feed at home is not feasible or realistic for you, speak with your pediatrician or dietitian about using a commercial food-based formula.
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