Managing tube-feeding complications at home

What can you do to manage symptoms?1


What you should know about your child’s body adjusting to tube-feeding

  • It may take time for your child’s gastrointestinal system to get used to tube-feeding at home; be patient
  • Sometimes conditions like constipation, dehydration, or diarrhea can prevent your child from getting proper nutrition while tube-feeding
  • Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse if they experience symptoms

1. Diarrhea

  • Wait 30 to 60 minutes for the cramps or fullness to subside before starting a feeding
  • Feed formula more slowly
  • Administer only the prescribed volume of formula
  • Allow formula to reach room temperature prior to feeding

2. Dehydration

  • Talk to your child’s healthcare professional about getting extra water after or between feedings
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider if you should change the feeding schedule or formula

3. Constipation

  • Add more fluids and have your child use the bathroom as soon as they feel the need to go
  • Have your child be as active as possible
  • Record the times of your child’s bowel movements and try to establish a daily routine
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about whether you should change your child’s medications

4. Recognize signs and symptoms associated with intolerance or dehydration:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Feeling of fullness and/or discomfort
  • Increased thirst
  • Dry lips
  • Small amounts of dark, strong-smelling urine
  • Hard stools that are difficult to pass
  • Loss of appetite

5. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse if they experience:

  • Upset stomach that lasts 24 hours
  • Signs of dehydration, including increased thirst or dry lips
  • Unusual weakness
  • Red, sore, or swollen tube site
  • Tube clog that you can’t flush out with warm water
  • Weight loss or gain of more than 2 pounds a week
  • Vomiting
  • Fever


1. Abbott Laboratories. Managing issues while tube feeding at home.
. Published 2015. Accessed March 9, 2018.