Caring for children with a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) is a beautiful and challenging journey for parents. A G-tube is a medical device that gives direct access to a child’s stomach for supplemental feeding, hydration, or medicine. Primary care physicians can recommend a G-tube when a child has medical issues that prevent them from being able to feed normally, either by breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
There are many parents with children with G-tubes in our community and we’ve been grateful to learn from them and see how our pajamas have helped make their lives easier. Here are some of the insights and learnings they’ve shared:
How do you take care of an infant with a G-tube?
Develop a Feeding Routine
A structured feeding routine is essential for the well-being of a G-tube baby. Work with your healthcare team to determine the appropriate feeding schedule, type of formula or food, and feeding rates. It is so important to regularly monitor the baby's weight to ensure your child is getting adequate nutrition and hydration.
Some children with G-tubes can eat with their mouths too. So it’s even more important to measure what the child is consuming between the G-tube and their mouth.
Depending on your baby's condition, feeding can be accomplished through a syringe, gravity drip system, or an electric pump. Finding the right technique for your child is critical to maintaining a sterile environment that reduces the risk of complications.
Our Zippy is a flexible option when parents need easy access to their child’s stomach. With two-way zippers, you can easily reach the feeding area and leave a small opening for the tubing while keeping your child comfortable. The fold-over foot cuffs also give caregivers the ability to run the tubing through the leg and out the footless romper.
Complications are possible when caring for a G-tube baby, including tube dislodgement, clogging, leakage, or skin irritation. Get familiar with troubleshooting techniques and emergency procedures, and seek immediate medical advice if you encounter any serious complications.
Our new Crescent Zippy is another great option for dressing children with G-tubes because the placement of the zipper is in between their legs leaving the insertion area free of anything that could cause irritation.
How do you burp an infant with a G-tube?
After feeding, your child may become bloated. If your child's belly becomes hard or swollen after a feeding, try venting, or burping the tube or button. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best method for your child.
Are G-tubes and other feeding tubes uncomfortable for infants?
It does not hurt to get fed through a G-tube. Since the food that goes in G-tubes is all liquid, the food goes right through the tube into the stomach like a straw.
The G-tube is not meant to be painful or uncomfortable for your child. If you keep the area clean and maintain proper hygiene, it will not cause any pain.
How do you bathe an infant with a G-tube?
Maintaining proper hygiene around the G-tube site is important to prevent infections and complications. Wash around the G-tube with a washcloth daily, using warm water and mild soap. Be sure to rinse all of the soap off, and dry the skin well.
Your child’s healthcare team will provide the best guidance, including securing the tube with appropriate dressings and regularly checking for signs of infection or skin irritation.
How do you stop a baby from pulling out her G-tube?
Depending on your child’s age, there are many ways to stabilize a tube and minimize the chance of your child pulling on the G-tube. If your child is active, you’ll need to be creative and very careful to be sure the tube is stabilized at all times. Here are a few ideas:
Use an abdominal holder or a belly band.
Avoid pinning the tube to clothing. Only use a pin with children who have no risk of playing with it or removing it.
Do infants grow out of using a G-tube?
Yes, some children do grow out of needing a G-tube and your doctor will help you make the best decision for your child.
As your baby grows, there may be opportunities to introduce solid foods and encourage oral stimulation. Work closely with your healthcare team to evaluate your baby's readiness for this big milestone. They can guide you through the process, ensuring a safe transition while monitoring for any adverse reactions.
How does an infant with a G-tube interact with other children?
Having a G-tube shouldn't hinder your child’s social development or inclusion in everyday activities. Encourage interactions with siblings, other kids, and extended family. Educate those around you about your baby's condition to foster understanding and acceptance.
How do I find a supportive network when caring for a G-tube infant?
Caring for a G-tube baby can be emotionally overwhelming for parents and caregivers. It is important that you find time for self-care and seek emotional support when needed. Connecting with support groups, both online and offline, can provide a sense of community and a platform to share experiences, concerns, and successes.
Raising a G-tube baby requires resilience, dedication, and a supportive network. We are so thankful that many of our Little Sleepies parents reach out to each other and ask questions on the Little Sleepies VIPs Facebook community. This network is a wonderful place to connect with parents having these same conversations. Join us!