Nasogastric (NG) tube feeding: Common problems

The following table outlines common problems you may encounter while feeding your child​ using their nasogastric (NG) tube.


May be due to

How to treat

How to prevent

Your child chokes, coughs, has trouble breathing, or turns pale while you are putting in the NG tube. NG tube
  • Immediately remove the tube.
  • Let your child or infant relax and recover.
  • Remeasure the tube length.
  • Try to insert again, following the steps.
  • If your child does not recover, call their doctor or 9-1-1 right away.
  • Measure the length and mark it on the tube.
  • Insert the tube gently and smoothly.
  • Encourage your child to swallow while the NG tube is going down.
  • Give your infant a soother to suck while you are putting in the tube.
Your child vomits or stomach is bloated during the feeding. Too much formula in the tube or air in the stomach.
  • Stop the feed for 10 to 15 minutes and start again more slowly.
  • If your child still has problems, call your dietitian or doctor
  • Vent the NG tube.
  • Run the feed at the rate to give the feed as instructed.
  • Make sure you are giving the correct amount.
The mark you made on the tube is no longer at the nostril. The tube may have moved too far in or out of your child.
  • If you cannot see the mark on the tube then pull back the tube and re-tape.
  • Check the tube placement.
  • If the mark is farther away from the child, then remove the tube, re-measure and put it in again.
  • Secure it well with tape.
  • Make sure the tube is taped securely so it will not move.
  • Place the outside of the tube into the child’s shirt to prevent pulling.
Your child has diarrhea.
  • The feeds maybe going too fast.
  • Your child may have a stomach infection.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about treatment.
  • Throw away equipment and start with new equipment.
  • Wash your hands well before and after handling the equipment.
  • Make sure the feeds run as instructed.
  • Make sure the formula is prepared in a clean way and the equipment cleaned well after every use.
The skin on your child’s face is irritated by the tape.
  • Too much tape.
  • Sweating, drooling that gets the tape wet.
  • Sensitivity to tape.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about other kinds of tapes that may help.
  • Secure tape to different locations on the face to allow skin to recover.
  • Use only enough tape to keep the tube in place.
  • Use only hypoallergenic tape.
  • Keep your child’s skin clean with mild soap and water and dry well before putting on tape.
  • Replace wet or dirty tape right away.

For more information, please see Nasogastric (NG) tube: How to insert your child's NG tube and Nasogastric (NG) tube: Feeding your child.

Celine Menezes, RN, MSN, Interprofessional Education Specialist

Karen Breen-Reid, RN, MN, Manager, Interprofessional Education