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Enteral Feeding Guide - How to Tube Feed a Patient?

Enteral Feeding Guide - How to Tube Feed a Patient?
Sailaxmi Chennuru

Are you feeling overwhelmed to administer meals to your loved one through a feeding tube? HPFY has the guidance you need on how to tube feed patients easily.

Food is life!

We all need balanced food for sustenance. Some people with health issues cannot take food and drink through their mouth and may require tube feeding to receive the necessary nutrients for nourishment.

Most people with feeding tubes solely depend on caregivers to administer and manage enteral feeding. First-time caregivers may find this challenging. HPFY believes an informed caregiver can easily assist and care for enteral feeding. Please check out these tips to empower the caregiver.

Types of Tube Feeding Methods

  • Bolus/Syringe Feeding Tube - feeding using the bolus method involves the delivery of formula using a syringe. The formula is drawn through the hole in the syringe and pushed into the feeding tube with the plunger. Bolus feedings are mostly given every 4-6 hours throughout the waking hours. Individuals who can tolerate the normal amount of food at one time can be given bolus feeding.
  • Gravity Feeding - the formula is delivered using a feeding bag without a pump in the gravity feeding method. The feeding bag is filled with the formula, and it flows from the bag into the feeding tube by the force of gravity alone. It can take up to 60 minutes to complete.
  • Pump Feeding - feeding pump machine is generally used for patients who cannot tolerate a larger meal at one time. The formula is filled in a feeding bag and pumped at a prescribed dose and rate.

Tube Feeding Procedure

  • Clean your hands using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Gather your supplies

  • The amount of formula prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • An empty container
  • A cup
  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • A container of water
  • A 60 milliliter (mL) catheter tip or ENFit syringe
  • Tape
  • Feeding pump (if on continuous tube feeding)
  • A pump feeding bag
  • IV pole or wall hook

Bolus Tube Feeding Procedure

  • Open the feeding port cap.
  • Flush the feeding tube with 30-60mL of water.
  • Pull the plunger out of the syringe and put the syringe tip in the feeding port.
  • If using extension tubing like Kimberly-Clark MIC-KEY Bolus Extension Set, connect the syringe’s needle to the extension tubing.
  • Pour the formula into the syringe.
  • Put the plunger back and push slowly to let gravity drain the enteral formula through the tube.
  • Add more formula until the prescribed dose is infused.
  • Wash the feeding tube with the suggested amount of water.
  • Remove the syringe.
  • Close the feeding port and disconnect the extension tubing (if applicable).
  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean all the supplies and air dry them.

Pump Feeding Procedure

  • First, flush the feeding tube with 30-60 mL of water.
  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag tubing.
  • Fill the feeding bag with the prescribed amount of formula. Covidien Kendall Kangaroo Joey Enteral Feeding Bag Sets feature an anti-free flow design protecting the user from a free flow incident.
  • Hang the feeding bag on the IV pole above the pump. Make sure the bag tubing hangs straight.
  • Insert the feeding bag’s tubing into the feeding pump.
  • Open the clamp at the feeding bag tubing.
  • Turn the Moog pump on. Moog EnteraLite Infinity Enteral Feeding Pump is a highly accurate and portable device that allows users to participate in physical activities.
  • After the meal is done, turn off the pump.
  • Rinse the feeding bag with lukewarm water.
  • Then flush the feeding tube with 30-60mL of water.

Gravity Feeding Procedure

  • Flush the feeding tube.
  • Close the clamp on the feeding bag and pour the prescribed dose of liquid food.
  • Close the feeding bag and hang it on the IV pole.
  • Connect the end of the gravity bag to the feeding tube.
  • Unclamp the feeding tube to allow the formula to flow.
  • The flow can be adjusted using a regulator clamp.
  • After the feeding is complete, rinse the feeding bag and flush the feeding tube.
  • It is recommended to replace the feeding bag every 24 hours to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

How to take medicines through the feeding tube?

  • Flush the feeding tube with water using a syringe.
  • Give medicine through the tube. If the medicine is in tablet form, crush them and dissolve it in water before giving.
  • If using several medicines, Flush the tube with water before and after you put each medicine.
  • Some medications may interact with the feed. Please follow the doctor’s instructions about that.

How to use and care for a feeding tube?

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling the feeding tube and the formula.
  • Shake the formula container well and wipe the top clean before opening. Make sure that the formula is at room temperature before giving it to the patient.
  • Follow the physician’s instructions on the quantity of formula on each feed. Keep the opened formula in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. If not used, then discard it.
  • If using the refrigerated product, let it come to room temperature before administering it. Never microwave the formula.
  • Set the flow rate of the formula that you are comfortable with or you can manage with. If you feel any sickness in your stomach or any other discomfort, slow the flow rate coming through the tube.
  • Speak to your doctor about changing the feedings or medicines if you face problems like diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting.
  • Keep the skin around the feeding tube clean and dry.

Living with a feeding tube does not mean you can't be physically active and lead a normal life. Learning new skills and adapting to new routines will help you adjust. You can find all your enteral feeding products under one roof at Health Products For You and can get a hassle-free supply every month by opting for auto-reorder.

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Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Sailaxmi Chennuru

Sailaxmi Chennuru

Sailaxmi Chennuru, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2017. A business management graduate, the study of anatomy has always been of interest to her.

After working as a medical transcriptionist for several years, she developed a keen interest ...

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