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How to Care for a New Feeding Tube

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
05/20/13  8:05 PM PST
New Feeding Tube

Coming home with a new feeding tube can be overwhelming. Make sure you know the basics of caring for your tube and the skin around it.

  1. Always wash your hands before handling your tube and feeding supplies.
  2. Keep the skin around the g-tube site clean and dry. If using gauze around the site and it becomes wet, change frequently to prevent the skin from breaking down.
  3. Clean the site daily with warm water and a clean wash cloth. Use mild soap if needed.  Avoid using rubbing alcohol, which can be drying and irritating to the skin.
  4. If your tube has an  external bolster, use a moist cotton swab to clean underneath it. Dry the skin thoroughly.
  5. Gently turn and rotate the external bolster 1/4 turn. Check the space between the bolster and the skin when both sitting and lying down. There should be roughly enough space to fit a dime.
  6. Weight changes can change the way your tube fits.  Likewise, when a child goes through a “growth spurt”, it might be time to get a larger size tube.
  7. Check the site daily for redness, leaking or discomfort. Notify your doctor or nurse if any of these occur.
  8. If your tube has a balloon, check the amount of water in the balloon at least weekly. Draw the water out with a 5-10mL syringe and note how much comes out. If it is less than the amount specified by the tube’s manufacturer, there may be a leak. Use water to re-fill the balloon.
  9. Secure long gastrostomy tubes to clothing or skin with paper tape to prevent the tube from being pulled.  Avoid white adhesive tape, which will leave a sticky residue on the skin and may cause irritation.
  10. Use safe tube feeding practice to prevent contamination and improve formula tolerance. See: Important Tips for Home Tube Feeding
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