Important Tips for Home Tube Feeding | Shield HealthCare Nutrition Support

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
02/14/13  8:00 AM PST
Tips for Home Tube Feeding

The team of enteral nutrition specialists at Shield HealthCare understand the challenges of tube feeding at home. The following tips are designed to help manage day to day feedings with proper care and guidelines.

  • Formula should be stored at room temperature. Avoid feeding cold formula, as this may upset the stomach.
  • If you are using feeding bags, change the bag every day. Only one bag should be used each day.
  • If you are feeding by bolus method, you will receive one syringe for each day. Syringes may be reused if washed with hot, soapy water and thoroughly rinsed. If you are using feeding bags, you should use a new syringe every other day since they are designed just for water and medicines.
  • When you are getting ready to give the formula:
    • Wash your hands.
    • Check the expiration date on the outside of the case before consuming.
    • Wipe off the top of the can with water or a cloth before opening.
    • Place a towel on your lap before setting up the feeding, to catch any formula that might drip or splash.
  • Open cans should be covered with plastic wrap or foil and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Take cans out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to use to bring the formula to room temperature.
  • Do not lie flat while feeding. Elevate the head of the bed at least 45 degrees before giving any feedings. Remain upright for at least 1 hour after each feeding. This will help avoid aspiration. Aspiration is a condition where liquids in the esophagus are unintentionally inhaled into the lungs.
  • Make sure skin is completely dry before placing a clean gauze pad around the site each day.
  • Practice good oral hygiene every day. If unable to spit and brush teeth, use a toothbrush, mouth swab, or clean washcloth dipped in mouthwash to clean your gums, teeth and tongue. This will help control bacterial growth in the mouth, which will help prevent infections.
  • Record your weight every time you visit the doctor’s office or at least 2 times per month at home, if you are able to weigh yourself.  If your weight changes by more than 4 pounds per month, inform your doctor.

Report any of these symptoms to your doctor: Nausea, heartburn, reflux, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, or if you are not able to follow your prescribed feeding treatment plan.

Shield HealthCare’s on-staff Registered Dietitians are available to answer questions and support tube-fed patients and their caregivers.

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    1. Hi Carmen, if the stools are like you describe, I would check in with the doctor. Pushing the formula with the plunger in the syringe will result in faster administration than removing the plunger and pouring the formula into the syringe and allowing it to flow by gravity. If you are having loose stools, the slower the better if you are able to tolerate feeding without the diarrhea getting worse. Again, I would check with the doctor about the stools. Thank you!

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