Your Child's Nasogastric Tube: Pump 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 sends liquid food directly to the stomach. You’ll need to feed your child through this tube. 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.

Feeding bag hanging from pole on pump. Feeding bag tubing goes from bag to pump. Clamp is in middle of tubing. Finger is pressing the On button.

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: __________________________________

Types of feeding

There are 2 types of feeding with an NG tube. Your child may be have one or both types of feeding. They are:

  • Continuous feeding. Liquid food is dripped slowly through the tube for part or all of a day. This type of feeding is only done using a pump. The amount of food to be given and time frame are often set on the pump for you. Do not change pump settings unless you’re instructed to do so.

  • Bolus feeding. This is a meal-sized amount of liquid food given through the tube several times a day. Bolus feeding is given using a syringe or a pump. Your child’s healthcare provider or home health nurse will tell you how much liquid food to use for each feeding. You’ll also be told how often to feed your child.

For bolus feeding, fill in the numbers below:

Feed your child on this schedule: ____________________________________________

Give this much at each feeding: ______________________________________________

Checking placement of the tube before feeding

Every time you feed your child, you’ll need to make sure the NG tube is in the proper place. The end of the tube must be in your child’s stomach, not in the lungs or throat. To check if the tube is in place, you will draw some liquid from the stomach and test it. Perform this check before each feeding.

The supplies you’ll need are:

  • Syringe

  • pH testing strips

Follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Attach the syringe to the end of the NG tube. Make sure the other port of the tube is closed off.

  • Pull back on the plunger of the syringe until you see liquid from the stomach in the syringe.

  • Look at the color of the fluid. It should look clear or light yellow.

  • Check the pH of the liquid from the stomach using pH paper. Stomach (gastric) pH should be 1 to 4 if your child is not taking a proton pump inhibitor or H2 receptor antagonist.

  • If you are not sure the tube is in the stomach, don’t proceed with the feeding. Re-insert or gently the NG tube as you were instructed at the hospital. Repeat the above steps to check for correct placement. 

  • Remove the syringe from the feeding tube.

  • Tape the tube securely in place along your child’s nose or cheek as you were shown in the hospital.

  • Wash the syringe out with soap and water and allow to dry.

  • Proceed with feeding as instructed.

Closeup of hands pouring liquid food into feeding bag.

 Closeup of hands connecting feeding bag tubing to port on NG tube. Feeding bag tubing is connected to pump.

Feeding your child

After checking placement of the tube, feed your child the amounts on the schedule as noted above.

The supplies you’ll need are:

  • Liquid food

  • Clean feeding bag with tubing

  • Feeding pump

  • 5 to 10 ml syringe (for flushing)

  • Water (for flushing)

Follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

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

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

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

  • Pour a little more than the prescribed amount of liquid food into the feeding bag.

  • Hang the feeding bag on the pole above the pump. Make sure the feeding bag tubing hangs straight.

  • Open the clamp on the feeding bag tubing slowly. Let a small amount of food run through the end of the feeding bag tubing. This clears air out of the feeding bag tubing. It also helps keep your child from having gas later.

  • Load the feeding bag tubing into the pump.

  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag tubing.

  • Open the feeding port cap at the end of the NG tube.

  • Connect the feeding bag tubing to the feeding port of the NG tube.

  • Open the clamp on the feeding bag tubing.

  • Check that the settings on the pump are correct.

  • Turn the pump to START/ON.

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

  • Disconnect the syringe from the NG tube.

  • Close the feeding port cap of the NG tube.

  • Never put medicines or pills down the feeding tube unless you were instructed to do so by your healthcare provider. This can lead to the feeding tube getting clogged and unusable.

Additional instructions: _____________________________________________________________




When to call the healthcare provider

Contact the healthcare provider right away if any of the following occurs:

  • You’re not able to place the tube.

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

  • The skin around the tube site has redness, swelling, leaking fluid, or sores.

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

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

  • Your child’s belly looks bloated or feels hard when gently pressed.

  • Your child has diarrhea or constipation.

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