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Enteral nutrition - child - managing problems

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Enteral feeding is a way to feed your child using a feeding tube. You will learn how to care for the tube and the skin, flush the tube, and set up the bolus or pump feedings. This article will help you manage minor problems that may occur with feedings.

What to Expect at Home

Enteral feeding is a way to feed your child using a feeding tube. Enteral feedings will become easier for you to do with practice. Your health care provider will go over all of the steps you should follow to deliver the feedings.

You will learn how to care for the tube and the skin, flush the tube, and set up the bolus or pump feedings.

Sometimes a feeding does not go as planned, and you may have a minor problem. Your provider will go over all of the things that can happen and what you should do.

What Should I Watch For?

Follow your instructions on how to solve problems if they come up. Below are some general guidelines.

If the tube is clogged or plugged:

If the child coughs or gags when you insert the nasogastric tube:

If your child has diarrhea and cramping:

If your child has an upset stomach or is vomiting:

If your child is constipated:

If your child is dried out (dehydrated), ask your provider about changing formula or adding additional water.

If your child is losing weight, ask your provider about changing formula or adding more feedings.

If your child has a nasogastric tube and the skin is irritated:

If your child's Corpak feeding tube falls out, call your child's provider. Do not replace it yourself.

When to Call the Doctor

Contact the provider if you notice your child has:

If your child has trouble breathing, call 911 or the local emergency number.

Related Information

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La Charite J. Nutrition and growth. In: Kleinman K, Mcdaniel L, Molloy M, eds. Harriet Lane Handbook, The. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.

LeLeiko NS, Shapiro JM, Cerezo CS, Pinkos BA. Enteral nutrition. In: Wyllie R, Hyams JS, Kay M, eds. Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 89.

van Zanten ARH. Nutritional support. In: Vincent J-L, Moore FA, Bellomo R, Marini JJ, eds. Textbook of Critical Care. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 41. 


Review Date: 10/22/2022  

Reviewed By: Charles I. Schwartz MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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