Every Tubie Needs a Freearm Feeding Tube Assistant
This post is sponsored by FreeArm, thank you for supporting the brands I love.
Doesn’t every parent wish they had just a few more hands? Or better yet, an assistant? Those desires run extra deep when you have a child with complex medical needs, or in our case, they are tube fed. Our 3 year old daughter Adeline has been fed via various feeding tubes for her entire life. She has a rare disease, Short Bowel Syndrome, which makes all eating, absorbing, growing tricky. Being tube fed allows her to get all the calories she needs to grow and keeps her alive. Toddlers have a lot of stuff, and are ALWAYS on the move. Then you add feeding pumps, bags, syringes, gauze, grip-lok, extenders, tubie pads, medicine, blended food or formula, etc. and you are basically a small time medical equipment supplier and honorary nurse. Getting them fed while managing all the stuff needed to feed them is complicated. Despite many extra steps and roadblocks, we like to live our life so I am often left trying to figure out how to do these things in the car, stroller, running errands, or even when we travel.
I was super pumped when I found this product shared on a Facebook group I am in and immediately got in touch with one of the creators, Misti. Sharing medical devices that make our lives easier is one of my passions. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog, and when people are committed to creating products specifically for my kid, I cannot help be get excited. Adeline is connected her to feeding tube 20 hours per day, and she also gets several bolus’ of water each day that need to be given gradually and she does best when it goes to gravity. I’ve been using the FreeArm the past few weeks and I am going to share what it is, how it was created, and how it’s making our life easier.
What’s a freearm
A FreeArm is actually an extra hand that can be used at home, when you travel, at the hospital, and on-the-go. It’s an arm that can be used to hold a bolus syringe, or your pump and feeding bag. It clamps to surfaces like cribs, tables, strollers, or even the tray table on the plane which gives you a lot more mobility. It can hold a 12ml syringe loosely and a 35 ml and 60 ml tightly. The arm is stiff and can be bent in whichever direction you need and is less than 2 feet long.
Gravity Bolus Feeding
The FreeArm clip easily holds a gravity bolus syringe, freeing your hands to hold your child, add meds, read a bedtime story, you name it! The bendable gooseneck can bend to a feeding height that is best tolerated.
The FreeArm works as a travel pump and feedbag holder, easily bending up to fit in your bag. This takes the place of an IV Pole!!!! I will share more about what we’ve been doing when we travel to hold our pump and it’s kind been a maverick sort of situation but I love this feature. It can easily hold the Infinity pump (under 1.5lbs) and could work with larger pumps such as the Kangaroo but the actual pump may need to sit on the table or hard surface. You can hang up to a 500 ml feed from the clip with the FreeArm and the arm can be bent to adjust.
It’s super easy to use, simple assembly, and took me only a few minutes to figure out. I’ve attached the directions so you can see for yourself.
The FreeArm is named after owner Misti & Will's son, Freeman Ellis Staley. Freeman was born in 2015 and after 3 long months in the NICU he was discharged with a feeding tube and needed to receive bolus gravity feeds. Being first time parents with a medically complex infant is incredibly overwhelming and feeding was difficult. He needed to be held, syringe needed to be manipulated, tube clamped and unclamped, medicines need to be added, and then you add that he would spit up and aspirate, there just were not enough hands to get the job done.
So they created a rough prototype of what the FreeArm is today to be able to safely feed Freeman. After 5 weeks at home, Freeman was admitted to the PICU for breathing complications. Five months later, Freeman lost his battle at almost 10 months old, the day after Valentine’s Day 2016.
Reading about Freeman’s story can make any parent just shudder and just hug our kids just a little tighter, but it also is inspirational. Freeman’s legacy lives on, since Misti & Will realized many parents of tubies were having the same difficulties they were. They dedicated themselves to revamping the FreeArm to not only make it easier to bolus feed, but also making it work for a pump and feedbag.
Freearm is a Game CHanger
The FreeArm takes the place of an IV pole!!! As a family that travels every 4-6 weeks for medical reasons, we know what it’s like to have a tubie on the move. We also travel monthly to see my parents, so we are always on the go. She is fed in the car, plane, train, or stroller as we are walking around. When we travel, we either need to bring our IV pole with us or we need to MacGyver a way to hang her feeding pump. The problem with traveling with IV pole, is it’s huge!! We made a smaller, lighter pole, but even that is huge and takes up a lot of space in our car. We cannot bring the pole on the plane, so you try to rig something to hold her bag. We’ve clamped it on chairs, tied it to pack and play using tubing from her feeding bag, or just laid her feeding tube back pack in the crib with her which then just results in frequent alarming. I will say it again, the FreeArm takes the place of an IV pole!!! It’s light, folds quite compactly, and it can brought wherever you go. It keeps the feeding bag upright, so you will not have to deal with alarming or kinks.
All parents need an extra hand, but medical parents need 8. For Adeline, giving her gravity bolus water was always complicated. I usually would hold her, and the tube, it was kind of tough to even keep my busy bee in front of me while holding the syringe. The FreeArm gives you an extra hand, and I know we will use this like crazy when Addie can start to tolerate bolus formula feeds. During our last medical trip to Boston, we used the FreeArm on the plane, on the stroller, in the exam room, and out and about around the city. Instead of me standing there just holding the syringe in the air while trying to manage the rest, the FreeArm held it for me. I like that you are able to try for 30 days and if it doesn’t change your life, return for a full refund.
The FreeArm is now on my list of must haves for every tubie, so RUN to get yours today and do not forget to use my code for 20% off.