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 put in through your child’s nose and 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 left the hospital. This sheet will help you remember those steps at home. If you need more help, talk with the hospital staff. They can tell you how to arrange for 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 than those shown here. One type of tube has a connection that lets you plug or push the syringe into the NG tube port. Another type has a twist-on safety connector. The twist-on safety connector means you must use a certain type of syringe. This twists onto your child's NG tube port. Follow your child's care team's directions for your child's NG tube.

Note

Take care to keep the feeding tube from becoming a strangulation risk to your child. Follow your healthcare team's advice on how to secure the tube safely.

Contact information to keep handy

Ask for phone numbers to call if you need help. Also 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:

Flushing the tube for bolus feeding using a syringe

Hand holding syringe filled with water attached to infant's nasogastric tube. Water flowing from syringe into tube.

Flush your child’s NG tube after each feeding, or as directed 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. Don't push hard. And don't 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.

Other instructions:

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

Flush your child’s NG tube after each bolus feeding, or as directed 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. Follow your child's healthcare team's specific instructions.

Closeup of hand holding extension tubing with syringe inserted in port. Other hand is pressing down plunger on syringe.

The supplies you’ll need are:

  • 5 ml (cc) syringe

  • Water

Follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

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

  • Not all tubes have clamps. If the tubing has a clamp, 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  1 to 5 ml (cc) of water. Follow your child's healthcare provider's instructions on how much water to use. The amount will vary by your child's age, needs, and situation.

  • Connect the syringe to the feeding port of the NG tube. Depending on the type of NG port your child has, you may plug in the syringe or twist it on.

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

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

  • Close the feeding port cap of the NG tube.

Other instructions:

When to call the healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of these:

  • 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 advised by the provider

Call 911

Call 911 if you have trouble breathing.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.