The real skinny on insulin pumps?


My name is Michael and i'm the father of a beautiful diagnosed type 1. She is about to turn three and was diagnosed at about 18 months old. It was an incredibaly hard experience for my wife and I to go through but things are finally starting to level out so to speak. I have a few main questions about younger children and pumps. We have been to the pumping classes and all of that jazz at the hospital but none of the reps can really give me the insight im looking for like a parent with a small child can. I know changing to the pump will be a huge change but im looking for some tips before we do. We started off trying the dummy omni pod and she couldnt take it. she just cried and cried about it for the entire day untill i felt so bad i took it off. So my first question would be what kind of hiccups have you guys had with the tubing style pumps? what are the main issues to look out for and so on. We just got out of the hospital two weeks ago with the stomach flu and my second question is how much easier or more difficult is it using the pump versus injections on sick days? Thats my main fear. And last but not least I have a wonderful supporting family who watches my baby every day wghile i work. Other than the basic information like delivering insulin and checking for problems should i go into the programming of the pump with them or just talk them through it if the situation calls for it. My grandmother is almost 70 years old and wont give up her fridays with my daughter. Is the pump simple enough for her to use without having to go through 20 different screens to get the correct insulin? Any halp given will be greatly appreciated.

Michael Goodrich

With the grace of God and a loving Family,

Diabetes has no chance!

Hi Michael,

I've been pumping now for over 4 years. I was on injections for less than a year before I switched to the pump (I use an Animas IR1250 and am due for an upgrade). I know that through talking to people on here and reading what they have to say, people have started pumping at different ages and for different reasons.

I was diagnosed later than most (19yo), so my pump insight may not be the same as those who were dx'd as toddlers or younger, but I believe that being on a pump has made a huge difference. It allows you to change your basal rate (the equivalent of Lantus or whatever long-lasting insulin your daughter is using) so if you are sick and tend to run higher BGs, it allows you to set up a temporary basal rate which can be higher or lower than what you normally would have in order to combat highs or lows.

I also think that the Animas pumps I've seen are very user friendly. Yes there are many menu screens, but there is a button on the top right next to the tubing that will take you right to the bolus screen so all you need to do is dial up the amount you want to give and just press "OK" to get it delivered. It also has a history feature so you can go back and see the boluses that your daughter would presumably be giving herself in case she is running high/low and you wanted to know how much she gave and still has acting in her by checking one of the "Status" pages for "IOB" (Insulin On Board). 

I'm not sure if that helped but it would really depend on how she reacts to it. From what you said, she wasn't a fan of the trial pump. Does she hate it when she has to do injections? You could try that avenue of explaining the benefits of a pump to her..."you only have to stick yourself with the needle once every 2-4 days rather than multiple times a day." I know that's one of the things that sold me on it.

Sorry for the verbose response, but hope it helps.

Good luck with everything with you and your daughter!


I use the Medtronic Minimed pump and have used it since I was 11.  I find it very simple to navigate, but I guess this depends on the person and brand of pump you choose.  To bolus and everything is really easy, so if your grandmother is going to be using it, I don't think she will find it too difficult.  It is much easier to regulate blood sugars, although sick days can still be problematic.  I was hospitalized when I was younger for the stomach flu, but I found that as I got older I could manage to drink Gatorade to prevent ketones and lows, even though I was still on MDI.  I'm not bothered by the tubing and I don't think I could handle the OmniPod because of its size and awkwardness.  I know there are other parents with young children on pumps with tubing so they might have some insight into issues with the tubing.  For me, the set itself is a hassle because when I put it on my stomach, it doesn't stick without using a strong glue called Mastisol.  Still, I would encourage you to try a traditional pump and also experiment with the placement of the sites to find which areas she is most comfortable with and work the best. 

Good luck!

I am on the Minimed Pardigm 722, (have been for almost 3 years) and I think it is very easy to use. But, I have never been on any other type, so can't really compare it to any other brand. One thing is it comes with a wallet card guide that sort of maps out the Main Menu and the Sub-menus, so that you can find anything you need. It's handy to have when you're learning or if you want someone else (like your daughter's grandma) to be able to navigate it. This pump also has a Bolus Wizard, so that when you want to dose for a meal, you press one button (B>>) then use up/down arrows to enter BG # and # of carbs, and the pump uses the settings for carb ratios you specify when you first program the pump (they can be adjusted tho, with up to 5 or 6 time slots so you can do different ratios different times of the day) to calculate the dosage for the meal/snack. No need for a separate calculator. Then you will have a preview screen, and you can confirm the dose. I almost always use this feature because it is very easy to calculate your bolus amt.

I like the tubing-style pump. It disconnects at the site, and you just cap it off when you go swimming. I always just stick the pump in my pocket, or I clip it to my waistband, and it's not noticeable at all. Maybe the Omnipod was just too big of a thing to be stuck right to your daughter, since she's so little. The only problems I've ever had with insulin delivery have been at the site, but that's rare-- 3 or 4 times per year. I've never had the tubing kink at all. You could also get your daughter a little pump carrier that is kind of like a small fanny pack if she doesn't like putting it in her pocket-- the carrier goes around like a belt with a little pouch in front to put the pump in. Little kids love those.

Luckily, I am not sick often. But when I have been, and also when I had to have my wisdom teeth out, a pump was really nice to have because you can do temp basals. With shots, you just have to either stay high and drink a lot of water, or take another needle. But when you're on a pump (you may know about this already) you can set a time range and say that you want the basal to run 200% over that time. Temp basal. So you'll be getting double the basal per hour. You can set it to any % though, 0 to 200%. That's really helpful on sick days when your BG is running high.

I think you will be fine with any pump you get. Most have child-lock features too, so that may be something you want to look into, it just depends on how much you want your daughter to be able to control the pump. With any new electronic device some time and patience is needed to get used to the new system, but pretty soon your daughter will be able to navigate really fast.

Good luck!

Hi Micheal,

I completely understand what you are going through.  Our 3yo was diagnosed last summer with type 1.  It's been a really difficult time for my husband and I, but now that our LO is on the pump it's a lot better.   For us the pump has been the best thing ever and other parents with preschoolers that I've talked to say the same.  We have the Animas pump and it is pretty easy to use.  I was nervous how she would react to something stuck to her body and having to wear a pump all the time, but she has adapted very well.  She has only been using it for about a month, but it has pretty much become like another appendage for her.   She understands that by wearing it she doesn't have to get shots.  It is more work for the parents in the sense that you will need to check her BG at least 6 times a day to set the basal correctly and you are constantly adjusting it.  It is worth it though to see her numbers improve.  She was in the 200-300's before the pump and now we are about averaging about 175 and still working on fine tuning.  It's also great b/c she can eat when she wants and if she wants to eat more after you have given her the bolus you can just give her a little more.  I can't say enough great things about our pump.  Animas has been great and the reordering of the insertion set and catheters has been very simple.  Hope this helps and if you would like to talk more, let me know.