Feeding Tube Education: Caring for Your Child

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Secure the tube in place to protect the opening (called the stoma) and prevent the tube from coming out. Cover the feeding tube with a sleeper or undershirt. This holds the tube close to your child’s body. Then put on your child’s usual clothing over the top.


  • After the site heals (usually about 2 weeks), it is safe to put your child in the bathtub. The doctor or nurse will tell you when your child can have a bath.
  • Before a bath, make sure the plug to the feeding tube is closed. The plug will keep bath water from going into the opening in the abdominal (stomach) wall where the feeding tube enters the body (called the stoma).
  • If there is a dressing around the tube, take it off before bathing.
  • After the bath, be sure to clean the skin around the feeding tube.

Mouth care

  • You need to care for your child’s mouth, even if he or she is not eating or drinking. Mouth care can prevent a dry mouth, cavities and gum problems.
  • Mouth care depends on your child’s age. Before teeth grow, massage your baby’s gums. As teeth develop, brush and floss your child’s teeth.


  • Your child can do regular activities such as crawling, walking, running, swimming and lying on his or her stomach. Please check with the doctor before your child plays any rough sports.
  • Before your child has a bath or goes swimming, be sure to plug or clamp the feeding tube.
  • If your child goes to school, talk with your child’s teacher and the school nurse about the feeding tube. The school staff should know what to do and who to call for common problems and emergencies.

Health care

  • The health care team will check the feeding tube and your child’s nutrition, hydration and growth.
  • It is important that your child continues to have regular check-ups with your family doctor or pediatrician.
  • If your child needs to go to the hospital, take the formula, feeding equipment, feeding adapter, supplies and information about the feeding tube.


  • When leaving your home, take your child’s formula, equipment and extra supplies with you. You may want to keep a checklist of things to pack so you do not forget anything. You can use a clothes hanger, lamp pole or a hook to hang up the feeding bag.
  • Long trips and trips out of the country take some planning. If you are flying, put 2 days of supplies in your carry-on bag. Always keep these supplies with you. You can check the rest of your supplies with your luggage.
  • If you are leaving the country, check with your insurance company about your coverage for health care and medical expenses. Find out how and where you can get supplies and what they will cost.
  • If you are planning a long vacation, talk with the doctor, nurse and dietitian. The health care team can help you with the details.
  • Supplies to Carry with You:
    • Two back-up tubes (one the same size and one that is a size smaller)
    • Cotton tipped applicators
    • Syringes
    • Feeding tube extension set (for low profile feeding tubes only)
    • Gauze dressing (if applicable)
    • Tape (if applicable)
    • Rubber gloves
    • Medicines
    • Soap for cleaning
    • Sterile water for cleaning (if applicable)
    • Formula
    • Water for flushing
    • Pump (if applicable)
    • Feeding Bag (if applicable)

View and print the Feeding Tube Workbook (PDF)