What is Enteral Feeding?

  • Enteral tube feeding is the administration of feed and / or fluids via a tube going into the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Enteral feeding can be nasal, where a tube is placed down through the nose into the stomach or bowel, and includes naso gastric (NG), naso dueodenal and naso jejunal (NJ) feeding, or it can be where a tube is placed directly through the skin into the stomach or bowel this includes percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) and percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ).
  • Specially prepared liquid feeds are used and put down the tube, different mixtures (formulas) are available. Your child will have a dietitian who will support you in identifying the most appropriate feed / formula for your child. The one they choose will depend on their nutritional and medical needs of the individual child.
  • Some families will choose to feed their children a blended diet. This is where foods are blended and fed via the child’s feeding tube. The children’s community nursing team are able to support training for a blended diet where the child’s medical team, specifically their consultant and dietitian, are in agreement. Currently the local dietitian team will only support a blended diet for children who have a gastrostomy button.
  • Your child might need to take all their food and drink via a tube, they may take some food and drink orally and then have the rest as a liquid through the tube, or they may have the food orally but need their drinks / medicines via the tube.

A child might need enteral feeding when:

  • They have eating and drinking difficulties / swallowing difficulties that make it unsafe for them to swallow all the food and drink they need safely. Other management strategies will usually have been tried and will have not been successful in managing this risk.
  • They may have structural obstructions or anomalies that make eating and drinking orally unsafe.
  • They may have such severe food refusal that they are unable to take in sufficient quantities of food and drink orally to develop and grow.
  • They may have increased nutritional requirement that cannot be fully met through oral intake alone.

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