How to Change Your Child’s G-Tube

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
08/26/13  10:18 PM PST
feeding tube accessories

If your child has a low profile gastrostomy tube, commonly known as a button, it will need to be replaced every few months depending on manufacturer and reimbursement guidelines. You can change your child’s g-tube yourself if the button is equipped with a balloon. Your replacement G-tube will likely come in a kit that includes the G-tube, syringes and extension sets for feeding.

Changing the tube may seem daunting at first, but at some point it becomes similar to changing an earring. Some kids replace their own G-tubes.

What You’ll Need

  • Clean towel
  • Replacement G-tube
  • Small syringe
  • A container with sterile or distilled water (to fill the syringe)
  • Water-based lubricant
  • Gauze if applicable

Steps to Change the Tube

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before handling feeding supplies and changing the feeding tube.
  2. Tell your child what you are about to do.
  3. Have her lie down and position her so that her stomach muscles are relaxed.
  4. Remove the water from the balloon of your child’s  existing G-tube using the syringe.
  5. Apply a generous amount of lubricant to the G-tube site.
  6. Gently pull the tube out.
  7. Apply lubricant to the tip of the replacement tube.
  8. Gently slide the replacement tube into the opening until it is flat against the skin.
  9. Fill the balloon with the recommended amount of water.
  10. Place gauze underneath the G-tube if drainage occurs from the site.

Some Notes

  • It’s a good idea to have an extra low profile G-tube handy in case your child’s tube falls out or the balloon will not stay inflated. If you do not have an extra tube, tape the tube in place until you get a replacement. The stoma can close quickly!
  • Some manufacturers recommend testing the replacement tube before placing it: fill the balloon with the recommended volume of water and observe for leaks.  Then remove the water prior to inserting it in your child’s gastrostomy site.
  • Regular tube maintenance will extend the life of your child’s feeding tube.

This article is designed for educational use only and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s feeding regimen, contact your healthcare provider.

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