Tube Feeding: How to Bolus/Syringe Feed Video

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
09/28/15  11:35 AM PST

In the video above, you can watch Amy Long Carerra, Shield HealthCare’s Registered Dietitian’s, video about how to bolus feed / syringe feed. Bolus feeding is a type of feeding method using a syringe to deliver formula through your feeding tube.

Click here to read the article about How to Bolus Feed.

Bolus feeding is a type of feeding in which you use a syringe to deliver formula through your feeding tube. It may also be called syringe feeding or gravity feeding, because you use a syringe to allow the formula to flow, by gravity, down your feeding tube. Most people will take a bolus (or a “meal” of formula) about every three hours, and each feeding should take about 20 minutes. This type of feeding allows you to have more freedom in your daily activities.

In order to bolus feed, you will need:

  • A 60 mL catheter-tip or oral syringe
  • A cup of room temperature water
  • Formula

Always wash your hands before handling your tube, or any supplies, and be sure to clean and air-dry the supplies afterward.

For more information, see related articles and feeding tube resources here:

You can also find more information about how to bolus feed through the Oley Foundation and the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation.

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  1. My husband had a TIA stroke in August of this year. He has a feeding tube in his stomach. He’s attached to his feeding machine for 18 hours, while he gets 5 cans of glucerna at 1.5 a day. I have noticed that he has started losing weight. can I feed him protein powder through his feeding tube using a syringe.

    1. Hi Vicki, thank you for your question! Technically, you can administer protein powder with water into his feeding tube but you should check with his dietitian or doctor first. If he’s losing weight he might need more total calories, such as another 1/2-1 can of Glucerna 1.5 daily, which would require a change to his current prescription. His health care providers should definitely be advised that he is losing weight. Your home medical supply company may be able to help you with a recommendation from their dietitian and a call to the doctor to have a change approved. Hope that helps!

  2. My fiance has a peck feeding tube and she has been taking formula with it but she is getting very unhealthy looking and I need to start putting food real food somehow or another blending it into liquid and give it to her is that possible and if so can you give me some suggestions on how to prepare such food and can I give her V8 juice and orange juice through the through this feeding tube

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your question. My first suggestion is for your wife to see her primary doctor or gastroenterologist. If she is looking unhealthy as you say, there may be some underlying cause that requires medical attention. They might also refer her to a local dietitian with knowledge of tube feeding, who can review her history. I’d want to know what she is getting through her tube currently and how well it’s meeting her individual needs. I can’t make a specific recommendation to give her orange juice or V8 without knowing more about her but generally, real foods pureed to a smooth, thin consistency can be added through a feeding tube as long as the tube is flushed with water afterward. A high-quality blender is usually necessary to prevent clogging of the feeding tube. Check out the tips and resources in the article, What You Should Know if You’re Considering Homemade Tube Feeding for Your Child. It can apply to adults, too. The bottom line is that yes, you may be able to add some whole foods to her diet, but what and how much should be evaluated by a registered dietitian. If your doctor can’t recommend one, you can search for one in your area here: You may also speak with your doctor or dietitian about switching to a whole foods-based formula, such as Nestle Compleat, or Real Food Blends. If you’d like to discuss further, you can email me directly at

    1. Hi Julie, thank you for your question! Tap water or bottled water should be adequate for flushing the tube and staying hydrated for most people on tube feeding. Tap water from your sink meets the Environmental Protection Agency regulations for drinking water and is consistent with the World Health Organization’s guidelines for water safety. For those with a J-tube (feeding into the small intestine), compromised immune systems i.e., undergoing cancer treatment or critical illness, sterile/purified water may be used.

  3. My sister syringe feeds and her external tubing stays attached. Any suggestions on how to keep it from hanging down when not in use or to minimize exposure under her clothes?

  4. Hi I feed my grandad through his peg but was woundering if you can prepare the syringes in the morning for the full day or should I carry on doing it just befour I feed him thanks

  5. I have a peg tube and use a kangaroo pump for over night feeding.cani use a syringe after I flush in the morning can I introduce v-8 through the syringe and flush again

    1. Hi there. Thank you for your question. We spoke to one of our registered dietitians, Annie, about your question, and here’s what they said: “I think that, as long as there are no contraindications to the patient consuming V-8 based on their diagnoses, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, I would think V-8 juice may erode the tube if administered frequently, being so highly acidic. They will want to be sure to always flush with pure water before and after administering formula or anything else to preserve the tube itself. But it shouldn’t be a clogging issue since the liquid is thin enough.” We hope that helps! Best of luck! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  6. Hi my husband has Parkinson’s and lewys body and now has a peg fitted , he has a feed running through the night , but iv been told to give him fifteen 50 ml flushes through out the day now he is having his throat cleared up to seven times a day . Help please how can I help him .

    1. Mrs. Joanna –
      We are very sorry to hear that your husband is having these troubles clearing his throat. To be safe, it is important to contact his doctor immediately to determine the root cause of this issue.
      -Sarah, Shield HealthCare

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