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Toy bear donations help prep families for baby’s arrival home

Toy bear donations help prep families for baby’s arrival home
Bringing home a new baby is joyful and challenging under the best circumstances, but when baby needs feeding through a surgically-placed gastrostomy tube (G-tube), it adds a new dimension of learning how to care for the child.

G-tube-bear-(1).jpgEnter the G-tube bear. It is just like a regular toy teddy bear, except it has a G-tube inserted into its stuffing-filled tummy. Thanks to donations this year to Carle Center for Philanthropy, the bears are an innovative teaching tool for families before taking baby home. The bear has even prompted one big sister to consider a career in nursing.

“The bears are such a huge hit with our families and their children,” Brooke McAllister, APRN in Pediatric Surgery at Carle, said. She spends time with families explaining what they should expect before the surgical placement of the G-tube. All newborn intensive care unit (NICU) nurses and pediatrics nurses work with the families for hands-on practice of how the G-tube works using the teddy bears before the child.

Cayla Waters of rural Urbana shared a photo on Facebook of her 5-year-old daughter, Natalie, practicing with the bear. Natalie’s little brother, Bob, who is now 5 months old, came home with a G-tube. Waters said when they tried to feed him, the fluid was going into his lungs rather than his esophagus because tissue in the back of his throat was not fully developed.

Bob went in to Carle Foundation Hospital when he was 8 weeks old to have the G-tube placed so he can eat and take medicine. His mother expects him to use the G-tube until he is 2 years old. When he was in the hospital there were no visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions and many of the nurses became like family, she said.

“We had nothing but a wonderful experience,” Waters said.

The G-tube bear assisted with showing her mother-in-law, a frequent babysitter, how the device works.
For big sister, Natalie, the bear not only gave her something to do while the adults were busy with the new baby, but it also may have planted the seed for a career choice.

“She really took to it. They had to share at day care and she said she wants to be a nurse to help others like her brother,” Waters said.

Categories: News

Tags: Baby, Giving, G-Tube, NICU

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