Gastrostomy feeding tube - bolus

Alternate Names

Feeding - gastrostomy tube - bolus; G-tube - bolus; Gastrostomy button - bolus; Bard Button - bolus; MIC-KEY - bolus

What to Expect at Home

Your child’s gastrostomy tube or “G-tube” is a special tube in your child’s stomach that will help deliver food and medicines until your child can chew and swallow. Sometimes, it is replaced by a button, called a Bard Button or MIC-KEY, 3 to 8 weeks after surgery.

These feedings will help your child grow strong and healthy. Many parents have done this with good results.

You will quickly get used to feeding your child through the tube, or button. It will take about the same time as a regular feeding, around 20 to 30 minutes. There are two ways to feed through the system: the syringe method and the gravity method. Each method is described below. Make sure you follow all of the nurse’s instructions as well.

Your doctor will tell you the right mix of formula or blended feedings to use, and how often to feed your child. Have this food ready at room temperature before you start, by taking it out of the refrigerator for about 30 to 40 minutes. Do not add more formula or solid foods before you talk to your child’s nurse.

Feeding bags should be changed every 24 hours. All of the equipment can be cleaned with hot, soapy water and hung up to dry.

Remember to wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Take good care of yourself as well, so that you can stay calm and positive, and cope with stress.

Caring for the G-tube site

You will clean your child’s skin around the G-tube 1 - 3 times a day with mild soap and water. Try to remove any drainage or crusting on the skin and tube. Be gentle. Dry the skin well with a clean towel.

The skin should heal in 2 - 3 weeks.

Your provider may also want you to put a special absorbent pad or gauze around the G-tube site. This should be changed at least daily or if it becomes wet or soiled.

Do not use any ointments, powders, or sprays around the G-tube unless told to do so by your health care provider.

Tips for Feeding Time with Your Child

Make sure your child is sitting up either in your arms or in a high chair.

If your child fusses or cries while feeding, pinch the tube with your fingers to stop the feeding until your child is more calm and quiet.

Feeding time is a social, happy time. Make it pleasant and fun. Your child will enjoy gentle talk and play.

Try to keep your child from pulling on the tube.

Since your child isn’t using their mouth yet, your doctor will discuss with you other ways to allow your child to suck and develop mouth and jaw muscles.

Feeding Your Child with the Gravity Method

Your nurse will show you the best way to use your system without getting air into the tubes. Follow these steps first:

If your child has a G-tube, close the clamp on the feeding tube.

If you are using a G-button, or MIC-KEY, system:

Feeding Your Child with the Syringe Method

Your nurse will teach you the best way to use your system without getting air into the tubes. Follow these steps:

If your child has a G-tube:

If you are using a G-button, or MIC-KEY, system:

When you are finished feeding, your nurse may recommend that you add water to the tube to flush it out. G-tubes will then need to be clamped at the tube and the feeding system, and removed. For a G-button or MIC-KEY, you’ll close the clamp and then remove the tube.

Bloating after Feeding

If your child’s belly becomes hard or swollen after a feeding, try venting, or “burping,” the tube or button:

Giving Medicines to Your Child

Sometimes you may need to give medicines to your child through the tube. Follow these guidelines:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your child’s nurse or doctor if your child:

Also call the doctor if:


Altman GB, ed. Feeding and medicating via a gastrostomy tube. Delmar’s Fundamental and Advanced Nursing Skills. 2nd Ed. Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning; 2003: 742-749.

Review Date: 10/8/2012
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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