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HealthSheets™

Your Child's Nasogastric Tube: Flushing the Tube

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 sends liquid food directly to the stomach. You’ll need to flush your child’s tube regularly to keep it from getting clogged. You were shown how to do this before your child was discharged from the hospital. This sheet will help you remember those steps at home. If you need more help, talk with the hospital about how to arrange a home health nurse to help you.

Keep in mind that there are many types of NG tubes and syringes. Your child’s NG tube and supplies may look or work differently from what are described and shown here. Make sure to follow the instructions given by your child’s healthcare provider or home health nurse.

Contact information to keep handy

Ask 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.

Healthcare provider phone number: ____________________________________

Home health nurse phone number: _____________________________________

Medical supply company phone number: __________________________________

Outline of baby's head and chest showing NG tube in nose connected to feeding port and feeding syringe. Water in feeding syringe flows into baby through NG tube.
Fill the feeding syringe with water and let the water run through the tube by gravity.

Flushing the tube for bolus feeding using a syringe

Flush your child’s NG tube after each feeding, or as instructed by your child’s healthcare provider or home health nurse.

The supplies you'll need are:

  • Feeding syringe

  • Water

Follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Make sure the feeding syringe is already connected to the NG tube.

  • Pour water into the syringe. Let it run through the NG tube by gravity.

  • If the water flows too slowly or doesn’t flow at all, place the plunger in the syringe. Gently push the plunger a small amount. This can help remove anything that is blocking or clogging the NG tube. Do not push hard, and do not push the plunger all the way into the syringe. Changing your child’s position so that he or she is lying down or sitting upright may also improve the flow.

  • Disconnect the syringe from the NG tube when the flushing is done.

  • Close the feeding port cap of the NG tube.

Additional instructions:

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

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Flushing the tube for bolus feeding or continuous feeding using a pump

Flush your child’s NG tube after each bolus feeding, or as instructed by your child’s healthcare provider or home health nurse. With continuous feeding, you may only need to flush the tube after the last daily feeding.

The supplies you’ll need are:

  • 5 to 10 ml syringe

  • Water

 

Closeup of hands disconnecting feeding port from NG tube. Feeding bag tubing is connected to pump.
Disconnect the tube from the pump, if needed.

 

 

 

Closeup of hand holding NG tube with syringe inserted in feeding port. Other hand is pressing down plunger on syringe.
Connect the syringe to the tube and push the plunger to let the water run through the tube.

Follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Make sure the pump is in the STOP/OFF mode.

  • Make sure the clamp on the feeding bag tubing is closed.

  • Disconnect the feeding bag tubing from the NG tube.

  • Put the tip of the empty syringe in water.

  • Draw up 5 to 10 ml of water.

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

  • Gently push the plunger all the way into the syringe.

  • Disconnect the syringe from the NG tube when the flushing is complete.

  • Close the feeding port cap of the NG tube.

Additional instructions:

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

When to call the healthcare provider

Contact the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the below:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Redness, swelling, leakage, sores, or pus on the skin around the tube site

  • Blood around the tube, or in your child’s stool or vomit

  • Coughing, choking, or vomiting while feeding

  • Vomiting between feedings

  • Belly that looks bloated or feels hard when gently pressed

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Fever 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.