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Your Child's Nasogastric Tube: Syringe Feeding

Your child is going home with a nasogastric (NG) feeding tube in place. This is a soft thin tube inserted through your child’s nose down into the stomach. It delivers liquid food directly to the stomach. You were shown how to feed your child through the NG tube before your child was discharged from the hospital. This sheet can help you remember those steps when you and your child are at home. Arrangements may also be made for a home health nurse to help you.

NOTE: There are many types of NG tubes, feeding syringes, and pumps. Your child’s NG tube and supplies may look or work differently from what are described and shown here. Always follow the instructions given by your child’s health care provider or home health nurse. Ask them for phone numbers to call if you need help. Also, make sure you have the phone number for your child’s medical supply company. You’ll need to order more supplies for your child in the future. Write all of these phone numbers below.

Health care provider phone number: ____________________________________

Home health nurse phone number: _____________________________________

Medical supply company phone number: _________________________________

Types of Feeding

  • There are two types of feeding that can be done with an NG tube:

    • Bolus feeding. A meal-sized amount of liquid food is given through the tube several times a day. Bolus feeding is given using a syringe or a pump.

    • Continuous feeding. Liquid food is dripped slowly through the tube. Continuous feeding is given using a pump.

  • Your child may be prescribed one or both types of feeding. Detailed instructions for each type of feeding are given below.

Bolus Feeding Using a Syringe

Your child’s health care provider or home health nurse will tell you how much liquid food to use for each bolus feeding. You’ll also be told how often to feed your child every day. Write these numbers below:

How much to give at each feeding:  _________________________

How often to feed: ­­ __________________________

Supplies

  • NG tube

  • Liquid food

  • Feeding syringe

 Outline of baby's head and chest showing NG tube in nose connected to feeding port and feeding syringe. 

 

 

 Outline of baby's head and chest showing NG tube in nose connected to feeding port and feeding syringe. Hand is holding NG tube steady while other hand pours liquid food into feeding syringe.

 

Steps

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Check the placement of the tube to confirm that it’s in the stomach (as you were shown in the hospital). Always do this BEFORE starting a feeding.

  • Check the label and expiration date of the liquid food. Don’t use any can (or bag) if the expiration date has passed. Instead, get a new can (or bag).

  • Open the feeding port cap at the end of the tube.Outline of baby's head and chest showing NG tube in nose connected to feeding port and feeding syringe. Liquid food in feeding syringe flows into baby through NG tube.

  • Pull the plunger out of the feeding syringe.

  • Connect the feeding syringe to the feeding port of the tube.

  • Gently bend or pinch the tube with one hand. Keep bending or pinching the tube as you slowly pour the food into the feeding syringe with your other hand. This keeps the food from flowing through the tube until you have finished measuring it. 

  • Fill the feeding syringe only to the amount that was prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Release the hand that is bending or pinching the tube.

  • Hold the feeding syringe straight up. This allows the food to run through the tube by gravity. Adjust the angle of the feeding syringe to control the flow rate of the food.

  • If the food flows too slowly or doesn’t flow at all, place the plunger in the syringe. Gently, push the plunger a bit. This can help remove anything that is blocking or clogging the tube. Do not push the plunger all the way into the syringe or with force.

  • Refill the feeding syringe with food, if needed. Repeat steps until your child has received the prescribed amount of food.

  • After the feeding, flush the tube with water (as you were shown in the hospital). 

  • Disconnect the feeding syringe.

  • Close the feeding port cap of the tube.

Additional instructions: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Call the doctor right away if any of the following occurs:

  • Your child has trouble breathing

  • Redness, swelling, leakage, sores, or pus develops in the skin around the tube site.

  • You see blood around the tube, in child’s stool, or in contents of the stomach.

  • Your child coughs, chokes, or vomits while feeding.

  • Your child has vomiting between feeds.

  • Your child has a bloated or rigid abdomen (belly feels hard when gently pressed).

  • Your child has diarrhea or constipation.

  • Your child has a fever 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

 

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