Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Tube feeding with a gastrostomy tube for babies and children

This factsheet tells you how to care for your child's feeding tube and stoma (the artificial opening into their stomach). It also tells you how to give feed and medications via the feeding tube.

Gastrostomy and feeding tubes

A gastrostomy is an artificial opening through your child's abdomen into their stomach. A feeding tube is inserted through the opening. This is so special liquid food (feed), medications and fluids can go directly into their stomach or small intestine (specifically the jejunum).

There are 2 types of gastrostomy tubes used in tamariki (children). PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) is one. PEG-J (percutaneous endoscopic gastrojejunostomy) is the other. These terms describe how the tube is fitted and where it is placed.

The MIC-KEY button is a low-profile PEG or PEG-J device. It is used with an extension set that is needed to access the feeding port.

Feeding tube photos showing a tube coming out of a child's stomach with a flange holding the tube in place, a clamp stopping anything flowing into or out of the tube and a feeding port

A – Feeding port. B – Flange (bumper). C – Clamp. D – MIC-KEY button. E – Extension set.

The PEG and PEG-J tubes have a flange (bumper) inside the stomach to keep the tube in the right position. The MIC-KEY button has a small balloon filled with water to hold it in place within the stomach.


Flush the feeding tube with warm water before and after you tube feed. Also flush it before and after you put medications down their tube.

If you have safe drinking water, you can use tap water to flush the tube. Otherwise, use boiled, cooled water.

If your tamaiti (child) has a jejunal tube, always use boiled, cooled water to flush their tube.


Only put the following down the feeding tube:

Do not put puréed food down the feeding tube.

Feeding methods

There are 3 methods of tube feeding. These are gravity feeding, bolus feeding and pump feeding. Your dietitian will decide which type of feeding is best for your tamaiti.

Your dietitian will discuss these options with you in more detail and provide you with a plan and instructions when needed. See:


The hospital pharmacist will review your child's medications before you go home. They will make sure your tamaiti can take the medications through their feeding tube. There are some important points to note.

Caring for your child's equipment and feed

Caring for your child's feeding tube and stoma

The stoma

Your child's feeding tube


If the feeding tube comes out, the stoma will begin to close within 2 to 3 hours. Put the tube that has come out back in the hole if you are able to. This will help to stop the hole from closing.

Contact the Children's Outreach Nursing Service immediately within normal working hours. Contact Children's Emergency Care after hours immediately (see contact details below). Your tamaiti may need to go to the hospital to have the tube put back in.



Possible cause

Recommended action

The skin around the tube is very red and painful and there is pus.

Your tamaiti may have an infection. First check that the flange is not too firm on their skin.

Contact the Children’s Outreach Nursing Service or Children’s Emergency Care.

The skin is "raw" around the tube insertion site.

Your tamaiti may have what is called overgranulation tissue.

This is common and easily treated. Contact the Children’s Outreach Nursing Service within normal working hours. See the contact details below.

The feeding tube is blocked.

Try to unblock it using a 60 mL syringe half filled with warm water. Use a gentle push pull method to dislodge the blockage.

If you cannot clear the blockage, contact the Children’s Outreach Nursing Service. If after hours, contact Children’s Emergency Care. See the contact details below.

Feed is leaking during feeding.

The tube may have come out of the stomach but still be sitting under their skin.

Contact the Children’s Outreach Nursing service. If after hours, contact Children’s Emergency Care. See the contact details below.

Supplies, syringes and giving sets

Your dietitian and the Children’s Outreach Nursing Service will organise your first supply of syringes and giving sets. For an ongoing supply, contact Nurse Maude Supply Services (see below).

Give as much notice as possible. Let them know if you cannot collect the giving sets as they can courier them to you. There is no charge for giving sets or syringes but there is a small fee for delivery.

If you live in Ashburton, phone the Ashburton Supply Department (see below). You will need to collect the giving sets from the Supply Department.

If your pēpi (baby) or tamaiti needs a prescribed feed, your paediatric dietitian will prescribe the feed and organise for it to be delivered to your home. If you need to contact your feed supplier because your feed has not arrived, use the contact details below.

Email your dietitian at for a new prescription when you have 10 days' supply of feed left.

Contact details

Children's Outreach Nursing Service

Phone: (03) 364-0033

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 4.30 pm

For urgent help after hours (for example, if the tube falls out), phone Christchurch Hospital on (03) 364-0640 and ask to speak with Children’s Emergency Care.

Nurse Maude Supply Services

Phone: (03) 375-4297


Address: 21 Hawdon St, Sydenham

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

Ashburton Hospital Supply Department

Phone: (03) 307-8462

Address: Ashburton Hospital, Entrance D, 12 Elizabeth St, Ashburton

Open for collection: Monday to Friday, 10.30 am to 2.30 pm

Feeding pump suppliers

For any issues with your pump, use the following contact details:

Feed suppliers

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by Nutrition & Dietetics, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created November 2023.


Page reference: 1145150

Review key: HITUB-482880