I am writing this post to say thank you to Vitamix for their generous program supporting the feeding needs of children.
There is no question that there is a growing interest and trend for higher quality food with less additives. We are getting more requests from families to make their own tube feeding formulas and homemade purees. Research supports the benefits of a home made blenderized tube feeding and shows that children receiving these types of diets have less reflux, better stooling, less vomiting and overall better growth and weight gain.1 Many of our feeding clients need a pureed diet long after what is considered typical due to oral motor delays. These children benefit from homemade purees which have more flavor, calories, and nutrient density than commercial baby foods. If tube-fed, one of the requirements for making a homemade tube feeding formula is a good blender, one that will liquify the food. These blenders can be quite expensive and out of reach for some of our families. A good blender is also needed to puree solid foods. Many of our patients with oral motor delay enjoy real foods with plenty of flavor in a form they can handle thanks to these super blenders.
Vitamix and their generous charity hospital program has helped our feeding team meet the needs of our families. We have recently partnered with them to provide donated or discounted blenders to those families who qualify whose children require long-term puree foods or who have feeding tubes. This has expanded the ways in which our dietitians can help these children. It also empowers caregivers by assisting them in providing the type of nutrition they desire for their child.
The hospital program has benefitted the feeding therapists as well. We keep demo blenders in the clinic which allows us to show families how to puree foods to a consistency their child can handle. We can demonstrate tricks for pureeing foods as well as transforming inappropriate food textures fairly quickly, all in a feeding session.
Case: Just this week, our feeding team observed a mother feeding her 2-year old daughter a soft toddler meal of ravioli. She opened well for the bites and appeared to enjoy the flavor. Her oral skills appeared to be around a 10 months or so. She managed some lateral biting but use mostly a sucking/tongue mashing pattern. Each bite of ravioli took over 2 minutes to manipulate, effectively mash, and swallow. There were no s/s of aspiration or coughing with the swallow.
As expected, after 4 bites, she was done. We took the remainder of the ravioli, added some diced soft carrots with liquid and pureed it in the vitamix demonstrating to the family how easy it can be to make a home made puree. We offered the pureed food to the child. Father spoon fed the child and she was able to eat another 4 ounces of food easily, with efficient bolus formation and transfer, in about 10 minutes. The increase in food will assist the child moving off of formula being used for nutrition. A plan was also put into place to therapeutically work on chewing skills. It can feel like regression to return to purees, however, nutrition and well balanced diet come first as we work on oral skills progression.
Vitamix is expanding their hospital program and has a goal of adding more hospital sites in 2018 and beyond. The program is described on the Vitamix website as follows:
Vitamix® works with select hospitals throughout the country that offer special programs for children with feeding and swallowing challenges, for whom a blended diet may be medically appropriate. Through these programs, we are able to help clinically qualified families receive a product discount or donation, based on their financial need. An additional criteria is the hospital’s specialized program/clinic must have a strong dietician presence. If you want to see if there is a participating hospital in your area go to https://www.vitamix.com/us/en_us/Customer-Service/Contact-Us/Product-Donation-Program and scroll to the bottom of the page. The logos of participating hospitals are shown there. If you are a hospital interested in working with Vitamix, contact Carolyn Hightower at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References (from http://www.realfoodblends.com/blenderized-diet-research/)
1 Pureed by gastrostomy tube diet improves gagging and retching in children with fundoplication (University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 2011)
–Tolerance of Pureed Diet by Gastrosonomy Tube in Pediatric Patients, Children’s Hospital of Michigan / Wayne State Medical School (Presented at NASPGHAN, 2014)
– The BLEND Study: A Feasibility study looking at children transitioning onto blenderized tube feeds, The Sick Kids, (Presented at NASPGHAN, 2015)
– Short-Term Outcomes Using Blenderized Tube Feedings Among Gastrostomy-Tube Dependent Children, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (Presented at NASPGHAN, 2015)