Nasogastric (NG) Tube

Before the Procedure

If your child is old enough to understand and is alert, he or she will be told what is going to happen and why. They’ll be encouraged to hold very still during the feeding tube placement. A nurse may help hold your child while the tube is being placed. Parents might want to offer a reward or a treat to encourage their children to cooperate with the nurses. Toys, iPads, or other distractions may be helpful to pacify older children during placement.

If your child is a baby or toddler, they may be swaddled in a blanket for greater comfort. Infants and children respond best if a parent is there with them, offering comfort and support. Sometimes it’s difficult to watch your child go through a procedure or treatment. If you don’t feel like you can do this, it’s OK – you can leave the room and return after the procedure is done.

During the Procedure

The placement is typically done by nurses at your child’s bedside, which means your child may not be taken into an operating or procedural room. The tube will pass through the nose, down the throat, into the esophagus, and finally into the stomach. Please know that the procedure isn’t comfortable, and your baby will cry some. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

After the placement is done, the tube will be taped onto the cheek. Your nurse may mark the tube with ink at the nose so they can know if moves.

After the Procedure

It’s normal if your baby or child has a stuffy nose or a little discomfort after the procedure, so don’t be alarmed. Pain medication usually isn’t needed.

You’ll want to watch your child and make sure they don’t remove the tube, since babies and children sometimes will try.

If tube feedings are done at home, you’ll be taught all the steps before you leave. Ask the nurse any questions you may have. It’s better to ask too many than too few. You might even want to keep a list of questions with you, such as how to give feedings, problems you should watch for, who to contact if you have questions, and what supplies you’ll need and where to get them. Often written information about these details are given when you leave the facility, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask.

Your First Day at Home

The first thing you’ll want to do when you get home is find a place to store your supplies that is out of your child’s reach. If your child needs a feeding pump, keep the tubing off the floor so it doesn’t create a tripping hazard. You’ll also want access to a clean space where you can prepare the formula.

Check the tube several times a day to make sure it hasn’t moved. This could happen if your child throws up or is uncomfortable and tries to remove the tube. If you ever have any doubts about tube placement, pull it out and replace it.

Also remember, that even if your child isn’t eating or taking medication by mouth, oral care is still very important. Frequent toothbrushing or using infant oral swabs are necessary.

Refer to your notes or discharge information as you get started. Keep your urgent and emergent handout on hand for quick reference.

Remember: the first day at home after any big change is going to require some adjustment. But before long, you’ll become more used to what to do and how to do it and you’ll develop a new routine that’s second nature to you.

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