Your child’s gastrostomy tube or "G-tube" is a special tube in your child’s stomach that will help deliver food and medicines until your child can chew and swallow. Sometimes, it is replaced by a button, called a Bard Button or MIC-KEY, 3 - 8 weeks after surgery.
These feedings will help your child grow strong and healthy. Many parents have done this with good results.
You will quickly get used to feeding your child through the tube, or button. It will take about the same time as a regular feeding, around 20 - 30 minutes.
There are two ways to feed through the system: the syringe method and the gravity method. Each method is described below. Make sure you follow all of the nurse’s instructions as well.
Your doctor will tell you the right mix of formula or blended feedings to use, and how often to feed your child. Have this food ready at room temperature before you start, by taking it out of the refrigerator for about 30 - 40 minutes. Do not add more formula or solid foods before you talk to your child’s nurse.
Feeding bags should be changed every 24 hours. All of the equipment can be cleaned with hot, soapy water and hung to dry.
Remember to wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Take good care of yourself as well, so that you can stay calm and positive, and cope with stress.
You will clean your child’s skin around the G-tube 1 - 3 times a day with mild soap and water. Try to remove any drainage or crusting on the skin and tube. Be gentle. Dry the skin well with a clean towel.
The skin should heal in 2 - 3 weeks.
Your provider may also want you to put a special absorbent pad or gauze around the G-tube site. This should be changed at least daily or if it becomes wet or soiled.
Do not use any ointments, powders or sprays around the G-tube unless told to do so by your provider.
Make sure your child is sitting up either in your arms or in a high chair.
If your child fusses or cries while feeding, pinch the tube with your fingers to stop the feeding until your child is more calm and quiet.
Feeding time is a social, happy time. Make it pleasant and fun. Your child will enjoy gentle talk and play.
Try to keep your child from pulling on the tube.
Since your child isn’t using their mouth yet, your doctor will discuss with you other ways to allow your child to suck and develop mouth and jaw muscles.
Your nurse will show you the best way to use your system without getting air into the tubes. Follow these steps to feed your child:
Follow these steps, and any steps your child's nurse gave you, to feed your child:
When the feeding is done, your nurse may recommend that you add water to the bag and let the water flow through the feeding set to rinse it out.
If your child has a G-tube, clamp the G-tube and close the roller clamp before disconnecting the feeding set from the G-tube. If your child has a button, close the clamp on the feeding set, disconnect the extension set from the button, and closet the flap on the button.
The feeding bag should be changed every 24 hours. Food (formula) should not be left in the bag for more than 4 hours. So, only put 4 hours (or less) worth of food in the feeding bag at a time.
All of the equipment can be cleaned with hot, soapy water and hung to dry.
If your child's belly becomes hard or swollen after a feeding, try venting or "burping" the tube or button:
Sometimes you may need to give medicines to your child through the tube. Follow these guidelines:
Call your child’s nurse or doctor if your child:
Also call the doctor if:
Feeding - gastrostomy tube - pump; G-tube - pump; Gastrostomy button - pump; Bard Button - pump; MIC-KEY - pump
Altman GB, ed. Feeding and medicating via a gastrostomy tube. Delmar’s Fundamental and Advanced Nursing Skills. 2nd Ed. Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning; 2003: 742-749.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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