Nasogastric (NG) Tube in Children: Care Instructions

Skip Navigation


A nasogastric tube, or NG tube, is a long, soft-plastic tube inserted through your child's nose and down the throat into the stomach. It delivers formula directly into the stomach to give children the nutrition they need.

NG feeding can be on a schedule. Or it can be ongoing, with help from a pump.

Some children are also allowed to eat or drink through the mouth while the tube is in place.

Inserting the tube is not very pleasant, but it's not painful. And your child will likely need the tube for only a short time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for use and care of the feeding tube. These instructions will be based on your child's age and weight. Your doctor will:
    • Teach you how to check the position of the tube before the start of a feeding.
    • Tell you what feeding formula and fluids to put through the tube.
    • Tell you how often to give a feeding and how fast the feeding should be.
    • Explain what to do if the tube is blocked or comes out.
  • Always wash your hands before handling the tube and formula. Wash the top of the can of formula before you open it.
  • Flush the tube with plain water after each feeding to keep it clean. Do not put anything other than formula or water through the tube unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Check your child's nose often to make sure the tube isn't causing soreness. Also make sure the tape is still holding the tube in place.
  • Talk to your doctor if your child vomits or has diarrhea or bloating during feeding. Your doctor may have you slow down the rate of feeding.
  • Be careful the feeding tube doesn't become tangled around your child's neck. This can strangle your child. Your doctor or nurse can give you suggestions for how to keep the tubing from becoming wrapped around your child's neck.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child chokes or has trouble breathing during a feeding.
  • The tube comes out.
  • The tube is blocked.
  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child is vomiting.
  • Your child cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.