A nasogastric (NG) tube is a thin, soft tube that goes in through the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. They're used to feed formula to a child who can't get nutrition by mouth. Sometimes, kids get medicine through the tube.
NG tubes are used for short periods of time, usually a few weeks to months.
Who Needs an NG Tube?
Kids need NG tubes when they can't eat and drink enough to stay healthy. This may happen when:
In the hospital, a health care provider trained in placing NG tubes can insert the tube at a child's bedside. When they do this short procedure, they:
Measure the tube against the child to be sure it's the right length.
Lubricate the tube with water or a special jelly.
Insert the tube into a nostril and guide it down the esophagus, into the stomach.
Check to make sure the NG tube is placed correctly.
Tape the tube to the child's cheek to hold it in place.
Are There Any Risks From NG Tube Placement?
Inserting the tube into the wrong place is a risk of NG tube placement. That's why it's important to be sure the end of the tube reaches into the stomach.
How Do I Care for the NG Tube at Home?
If your child has an NG tube, it's normal to feel a little bit nervous about it at first. But soon you'll feel confident about giving feeds and changing it.
Here are some tips:
Always wash your hands well before caring for the NG tube or giving a feed or medicine.
Always keep the feeding set tubing out of the way of infants and children. There is a risk that the feeding set tubing can get wrapped around a child’s neck, which could lead to strangulation or death.
Check that the tube is placed into the stomach and is working well before you use it.
Know what to do if the tube gets blocked or comes out.
Keep the area around your child's nose clean using gauze pads and warm water.
Check the skin around the nose regularly for signs of irritation or infection, like redness, tenderness, warmth, swelling, or drainage.
Switch nostrils each time you change the NG tube.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call the care team if your child has any of these symptoms: