Kids Health Info

Nasogastric tube - insertion of

  • A nasogastric (nay-zo-gas-tric) tube is a thin, soft tube that is passed through your child's nostril (nose), down the back of their throat, through the oesophagus (food pipe) and into their stomach. A nasogastric tube is sometimes called an 'NG'.

    Inserting the tube is usually quick and the tube will go down easily if your child is relaxed. There are ways you can help your child to remain calm and these include you being there, offering distraction and using relaxation techniques.

    Reason for insertion of NG

    Generally, a child will be given an NG so that specially prepared liquid food can be put down the tube. The reasons your child might need an NG for feeding include:

    • problems with sucking and swallowing;
    • not getting enough nutrition through their normal diet;
    • cannot swallow the medications they need;
    • sometimes, an NG may be used to empty the stomach contents.

    What to expect

    While having a nasogastric tube put in is a short procedure and does not hurt, it is not very pleasant. Panadol or other medicines for pain relief will not stop the discomfort. Knowing what the procedure is about will help make it easier for you and your child.  The following tips may help both you and your child manage the procedure better:

    • If your child is a baby, a dummy with sucrose (a liquid form of sugar) and swaddling them in a blanket may give both comfort and containment.
    • Try to distract your child by talking about favourite activities or friends. In very young children toys may be useful.
    • Offering a baby a bottle to suck or asking your child to swallow while the tube is passing may help it go down more easily.
    The NG tube is usually held in place by being gently taped to the side of your child's face, near the nostril.

    Nasogastric tube insertion 500 RCH KHI

    Care at home

    • Your child may initially complain of a sore throat. The sore throat usually gets better with time.
    • The most important part of caring for an NG tube at home is checking that it is in the correct position (i.e. sitting in the stomach) before you put anything down it.
    • If there are no other reasons why your child cannot eat or drink (such as a problem with swallowing), they can eat and drink with the tube in place (e.g. if they have an NG for medicines only). Check with your child's doctor whether your child is allowed to eat and drink first.
    • Babies and children who need the tube for a long period may need to have it replaced from time to time. This normally means your child will have to return to hospital.
    • It is not safe to try to reinsert an NG tube yourself if you have not been trained to do it. 


    • If your child is going home with an NG tube, you need to have a clear plan in place before leaving the hospital. This plan should include who to contact and what to do if the tube comes out or moves.
    • Any adult caring for your child will need to be educated about how to care for the tube and how to use the NG to feed your child. Please ask nursing staff for more information.

    Key points to remember

    • A nasogastric tube is a soft tube that is placed through your child's nostril, down the back of the throat, through the oesophagus (food pipe) and into the stomach.
    • Nasogastric tubes may be put in for many different reasons.
    • Panadol and other pain medication will not relieve the discomfort of tube insertion. However, the use of,swaddling, distraction, relaxation and sucking/swallowing may help your child.
    • It is important that you do not try to insert the tube yourself without proper training. 

    For more information



    Factsheet developed by RCH Clinical Quality & Safety and Dept General Paediatrics. First published June 2006. Updated November 2010.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.