I was recently asked by a professional skeptic, a parent & friend of mine, “why can’t parents re-feed their own children at home without the stamp of approval of the ‘professionals’”?

Well, they can, they DO, they SHOULD!  

Home re-feeding is ideal when it works, as virtually any intervention that can be done at home is preferable to one that requires the input of (even caring) strangers.  BUT -- and there are several buts-- it does not always work for several reasons:

  1. Example:  a single parent must work and cannot take the time out needed to be the chief & sole “re-feeder”.  

  2. Example: one or both parents are dead, in prison or mentally ill (no, this is not ripped from the headlines, it is ripped from the annals of our actual patients).

  3. Example: the parent has many children and feels that the demands of re-feeding a sick one at home by themselves are too overwhelming.  

  4. Example: a child is too ill, too combative and overwhelms the parent (s).  

  5. Example: the child is too medically compromised for home re-feeding to be safe.  

  6. Example: the child need nasogastric tube feeding support and, while this can technically be done at home, is likely only to work if there is a parent who can stop outside work for months and focus on doing this only.

  7. Parents themselves feel that they have insufficient nutritional/food preparation knowledge to re-feed their child without extensive teaching and support

  8. Some parents feel that home re-feeding ignores the emotional distress that can be involved in food and weight restoration

  9. Parental exhaustion

  10. Home re-feeding can seem unfeasible in the case of an ill young adult child


I am and have been a major supporter of parents in charge of food.  I also believe that parents can -- and do -- become true experts in refeeding.  But we need to have room in our hearts to believe that every parent tries the best that they can, and if it doesn't work for them at home, not to make them feel guilty or a failure.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and outcome is really all that matters, as long as whatever is done is done is a spirit of love for that child.