Nasogastric (NG) Tube in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A nasogastric tube, or NG tube, is a long, soft-plastic tube inserted through your child's nose and down the throat into the stomach. It delivers formula directly into the stomach to give your child the nutrition he or she needs.

NG feeding can be on a schedule or it can be ongoing, with help from a pump.

Some children are also allowed to eat or drink through the mouth while the tube is in place.

Inserting the tube is not very pleasant, but it's not painful. And your child will likely need the tube for only a short time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for use and care of the feeding tube. These instructions will be based on your child's age and weight. Your doctor will:
    • Teach you how to check the position of the tube before the start of a feeding.
    • Tell you what feeding formula and fluids to put through the tube.
    • Tell you how often to give a feeding and how fast the feeding should be.
    • Explain what to do if the tube is blocked or comes out.
  • Always wash your hands before handling the tube and formula. Wash the top of the can of formula before you open it.
  • Flush the tube with plain water after each feeding to keep it clean. Do not put anything other than formula or water through the tube unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Check your child's nose often to make sure the tube isn't causing soreness. Also make sure the tape is still holding the tube in place.
  • Talk to your doctor if your child vomits or has diarrhea or bloating during feeding. Your doctor may have you slow down the rate of feeding.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child chokes or has trouble breathing during a feeding.
  • The tube comes out or becomes blocked and you don't know how to fix it.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating during feeding.
  • You have any problems with feedings.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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