Having a child with EA/TEF is not easy when it comes to eating. This is why I came up with EA-TEF Best Kitchen Tools to help other families.
Best Kitchen Tools For Esophageal Atresia Families
Our wonderful surgeon always tells me at our routine visits to remember that every EA/TEF child will have their own limitations and problems with certain foods and textures. She also always reminds me to stay away from hot dogs, steak, grapes, and fruits with skins.
My son is now almost 4 years old and thankfully doing great! We are always careful with his food but little by little he has made great progress! You can read My Story and find out why I started this blog.
Here’s a recent picture to show his progress. A year ago, I would have never thought he will be able to handle baby carrots without problems! Cooking healthy meals at home also helped develop healthy eating habits and my son eats a great variety of foods! He loves baby carrots with hummus or guacamole! Sometimes when I let him eat them by himself I first boil the carrots for about 5-7 minutes to be safe.
Our EA-TEF Journey With Food
When my son was about 18 months old, he “stole” some grapes at daycare and they got stuck in his esophagus at the surgery site. The teachers did not notice because he could still breathe and was acting normal. It was at the end of the day so he did not have anything else to eat after that. That day, my husband picked him up from school. When he got home, he served dinner and that is when he found out. I was still at work. He called me and said: “You need to come home immediately! Matias has something stuck and I can’t dislodge it. Not even fluids are going down”. I left work and headed home as fast as I could. Whenever he had a food stuck incident, he was able to manage in a matter of minutes but not this time.
After I arrived and tried to unstuck what was inside his esophagus with no luck, we got in the car and drove to the children’s hospital. I called the surgeon, but she was not available that day. While we were waiting in the ER, my son threw up what looked like a piece of grape. We then gave him some water but he still had something else stuck in his esophagus. A few seconds later he threw up another grape. This time the grape came out with the skin and was obviously not chewed properly so that was the reason why it got stuck. Thankfully that was the end of the emergency hospital visit and we came back home.
My son is now almost 4 years old and we still avoid grapes. He eats the occasional hot dog and piece of steak but only when I am the one feeding him and making sure he chews well and drinks lots of water. When I send food for school I always make sure it is cut small and it is “safe” for him to eat. No raw veggies, no fruits with skins, no hot dogs or steak. He does have trouble from time to time and a good tip I heard from the EA/TEF boards was to give him some soda. It really works! The bubbles in the soda helps bring the food up.
Let teachers know about EA-TEF
It is extremely important to talk to all the caregivers and teachers at the school about EA/TEF and food limitations. When my son first started daycare, I printed out the Guide For Teachers and Caregivers/ EA/TEF and gave it to all the people who were going to care for him. I explained also that when he has a cold or cough, he sounds 10 times worse because of him tracheomalacia. Hearing him cough is scary to someone who doesn’t know because it sounds really severe when in reality it could just be the common cold-cough.
It is also so important to send “safe” foods to school to make sure that if there are no stuck incidents while you are not present. This is why I am making a list of products that have helped me tremendously in the kitchen to prepare safe meals for him.
I also have a group board on Pinterest for all my EA-TEF Kid Friendly Recipes. If you also want to share a recipe, just let me know. I would love to have more recipes for our kids.
EA-TEF Best Kitchen Tools
1. The Slow Cooker.-A real lifesaver for daily food! Cooking meatballs, chicken stews, and other recipes will make veggies super soft and meat really tender. I still cut it smaller if I am sending it to school but I feel confident he can manage without problems. The slow cooker is easy and very convenient. Just peel and cut veggies, meat and sauces and leave them for 6-8 hours. Please see my Crock Pot Veal Meatballs Stew and Crock Pot Chicken And Yams Stew recipes. I decided to purchase an expensive slow cooker/multi-cooker but you can get one that works really well also for under $40.
2. The Vitamix Professional Series.- Can’t survive without it. Best investment I made for my family’s health! It blends fruits and veggies in seconds. It is also great for making your own nut butters, soups, sorbets, and even dough! I use my vitamix almost everyday! Blend smoothies with added superfoods, ice pops, and make purees for babies. Awesome kitchen tool. I own the professional series but other models also work very well. The difference is the professional Vitamix has five pre-programmed settings to make smoothies, soups, and purees. It has also a wider container. Take a look at the How To Make Perfect Green Smoothies For Kids Tutorial. You can find many recipe ideas and make delicious homemade smoothies and ice pops. Check out the video too!
3. The Mesh Feeder.- If you have a EA/TEF baby, this is a great tool. My son could not handle bananas, apples or strawberries when he started eating solids. With the mesh feeder he was able to eat fresh real food without me having to worry about him getting stuck. You can also try sweet potato, watermelon, peaches, you name it!
4.- The NUK Mash and Serve Bowl has been for us the most useful tool. Mashes fruits and vegetables really well and you can just serve it in the same bowl. I used to take it to restaurants and just mash my son’s food in it. A highly recommend EA/TEF moms to buy one. It is inexpensive and so useful. I used to mash avocados, beans, potatoes, bananas, even ground meat and pasta! I use it also to make one of his favorite recipes Broccoli Cauliflower Nuggets.
5.- The Orka by Mastrad Popsicle Molds, Set of 4.- is our favorite product to make delicious homemade ice pops. Before my son was two years old, he had so much trouble with fruits and veggies. They were always getting stuck! So I thought of blending and freezing as ice pops! He loves them! You can see my post: Great Snack Idea: Ice Pops! for recipes.
If you have any questions about this EA-TEF Best Kitchen Tools post, please leave a message and I will be glad to talk about the products I recommend in this article. If you also have any suggestions or would like to recommend other tools or products, I will love to know about them. I am always looking for more ideas.
If you are interested in reading more about my blog, I have a special EA-TEF section where I share recipes, natural remedies, and advice.
This EA-TEF Best Kitchen Tools post contains affiliate links. The products linked are the products I use and recommend. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Creative Healthy Family will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Last update on 2022-11-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
It’s like I could have written this article. You described our journey so well. Makes me feel good knowing others have the same issues. Thank you.
Creative And Healthy Fun Food says
Thank you Anke!
Alicia R says
Thank you for this!!! Im starting the solid food journey and i am SCARED out of my mind. My son is almost 12 months and has had 2 dilatations recently. I feel so alone in this journey. Do you know a specialist I can talk to?
Thank you again!
Creative Healthy Family says
Hi, I am glad you liked the post. I recommend you check with your local children’s hospital for feeding classes. I took my son several times to a specialist at Miami Children’s hospital where I would take some solid foods and they will help my son chew and swallow. It also helped me not be scared of trying new foods. Hope this helps 🙂
Alicia Romero says
Thank you! I just got in touch with a speech therapist last week so we will start working with her. He did have an issue this weekend with salmon and it doesn’t seem to get easier.
I started your smoothie recipe for reflux and he LOVES it, however, do you have a suggestion for Aloe? I was at whole foods and they did not seem to know what was safe for a 1 yo to consume, so I have not added it yet.
I honestly can not thank you enough for your blog! Since finding it I don’t feel so alone or hopeless!
Creative Healthy Family says
Glad to know you are getting some help 🙂 My son still drinks this smoothie in the mornings and still LOVES it! I gave my son aloe (a little mixed with smoothies) since he was 1 year old. Remember that I am not a doctor so it is always a good idea to check with your pediatrician. You can ask me anything, I am here to help 🙂 I know how hard the first couple of years are but know IT GETS BETTER!