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Taking the Stress Out of Changing Your Child’s G-Tube

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
05/17/18  10:45 AM PST

Performing any medical procedure on your child can be stressful for all concerned. Swapping out your child’s balloon g-tube for a replacement is no exception. Follow these tips to make it easier on both of you.

Act natural. A child can feel your stress. Make it seem like it’s no big deal.

Distract. If your child needs distraction to relax and take his mind off what you’re doing, sing a song (some parents make up a song to sing with their child) or tell a story, or turn on his favorite TV show or let him play a game on your phone for a few minutes.

Give them some control. If your child is able to take responsibility for a small task, have him hold supplies or let him draw the water out of the balloon on the old g-tube.

Do it on an empty stomach. Change the g-tube a few hours away from a feeding so that there’s less chance of gastric contents coming out while you’re doing it.

Multitask. Make the tube change part of a routine you’re already doing, such as at the same time you would normally check the water in the balloon or change a diaper.

Be sneaky. Have the replacement tube lubed, ready to go and out of sight. While you’re changing a diaper or replacing the balloon water, sneak out the old tube and slip the new one in before they figure it out.

Offer a reward. This can be as easy as a small toy from the dollar store. Consider a “Grab bag” of goodies to keep on hand for just such an occasion.

Get a tubie friend. Let your child practice the procedure on a doll or teddy bear that has a g-tube too.


How to Change Your Child’s Balloon G-Tube

  1. Lay the child flat
  2. Clean the stoma site and let it dry.
  3. Use a small slip tip syringe to remove the water from the old g-tube. The syringe should come with the new feeding tube.
  4. Spread lubricating jelly around the stoma and the old tube. Use water-based lubricant, like K-Y jelly, oil-based lubricants may damage the tube.
  5. Lubricate the new tube at this time too, so you have it ready.
  6. Gently but firmly pull the tube out with a twisting motion. It may help to gently press down on the skin around the stoma while you are pulling on the tube.
  7. Slip the new tube in and use the slip tip syringe to inflate with the recommended amount of sterile or distilled water.
  8. Wipe the stoma site clean.

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