Tube Feeding FAQs

Here is a list of the most common tube feeding FAQs. Tube feeding your child is a major decision. Many parents have questions when deciding if the feeding tube is the answer for their child. Here is a list of the most common questions.

How will I know how much formula to give my child?

You will work with your child’s physician to determine how much formula your child needs to receive through the feeding tube. The doctor will also tell you what time your child should be fed through the tube and at what rate. Every child is different, and depending on the situation and child some children get fed overnight while others get small amounts throughout the day, and still others get feeds 24 hours. Your physician can work with you to create the least restrictive schedule while supplying your child with the calories and fluid he needs to gain weight.

Can I still feed my child by mouth?

This is very popular on the list of tube feeding FAQs. Some children use tube feedings to supplement what they eat by mouth. Depending on your child’s situation, his feeding schedule may be only at night, leaving him free to eat whatever he wants during the day. Other children may be put on a bolus feeding schedule in an effort to get his stomach to expand so he is able to better tolerate larger amounts of food. These are all things you should discuss with your child’s doctor to establish goals and a plan for the future. Either way, unless it has been found it is dangerous for your child to eat, he will be able to eat food even when he gets tube fed.

My baby likes to put things in her mouth. Can she still do this while on the feeding tube?

The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body. Babies on tube feedings benefit from use of a pacifier during feedings to stimulate the lips, gums and tongue. As the child grows, the child should have other opportunities to chew or suck. Oral stimulation will promote normal growth and development.

Johnny just started to crawl. Will he be attached to the feeding tube all the time, and how will this affect his development?

Children who are tube fed have the same needs for growth and development as other children. Your physician can work with you to set a schedule that is realistic for your child depending on how well he tolerates tube feeding and what type of feeds he is on.

toddler crawling


Can Jessica sit at the table with us when we are eating or does she have to be removed from people when she's being tube fed?

If your child is able to eat food, it is important to get him to touch and taste food. Having your child sit with the family at mealtimes is important, and sometimes it’s even good to give him a plate with a little food one it, so he feels included and understands what should be done at mealtimes. This should be done even if his primary source of nutrition is through tube feeding.

What kind of food can I give through the tube? Are the formulas healthy?

Formula, water and medication can be given through the tube. A standard formula given through the tube provides all the vitamins and minerals needed. If you are interested in providing your child with a blenderized diet, ask your doctor about it and read the article in the link above.

If you have any additional questions regarding the feeding tube that is not on this list of tube feeding FAQs, or if you would like to make one last attempt at preventing tube placement, make an appointment with us.

Alternatively, if you feel a question should be added and answered to this list of tube feeding FAQs, submit it here.