Caring for Feeding Tubes
A feeding tube is a soft, hollow tube that normally allows formula to flow easily through it; however, excess formula can build up on the inside of the tube, reducing the flow or sometimes causing it to clog. To prevent this from happening and to extend the life of the tube, it is important to flush the tube with water, using a syringe, throughout the day.
Preparing to clean around the feeding tube:
- Wash your hands, countertop or workspace, and gather supplies – a clean cloth for washing and drying, and soap and water.
- Gently remove any dressing (gauze and tape) around your feeding tube.
- Using a soft, clean cloth moistened with water and soap, gently clean around the tube and under the plastic ring using outward circular motions.
- Using a cloth, rinse well to remove soap residue, and pat dry.
Dress with a bandage
only if prescribed by your doctor or if there is significant drainage around the tube site.
NOTE: Antibiotic ointments or creams are not recommended unless prescribed by your doctor.
Preparing to flush your feeding tube:
- Wash your hands, countertop or workspace, and gather supplies – a 60 ml syringe, and measuring cup with lukewarm water.
- Place measuring cup filled with water on countertop or stable surface.
- Put the tip of the 60 ml syringe into the cup of water.
- Gently pull back on the plunger of the syringe; this will pull water into the syringe.
- The amount of water needed to flush the tube will be determined by your doctor or dietitian.
- Clamp or pinch the feeding tube to prevent any stomach contents (fluid) from running out of the tube, then open the feeding tube cap.
- Insert the tip of the syringe into the opening of the feeding tube.
- Unclamp or unfold the tube, and then gently push down on the plunger of the syringe to force water through the tube into the stomach.
- Remove the syringe and close the cap.