Pediatric feeding tube dependency

At Children's Health℠, we offer the most comprehensive feeding program in Texas staffed by experts ranging from speech therapists to gastroenterologists.

Our unique program teaches children to eat on their own as much as possible with the ultimate goal of no longer needing a feeding tube. For more than 20 years, we have cared for children with feeding tube dependency and helped them grow.


Fax: 214-867-6701


Fax: 972-727-5014

Dallas (Cityville)

Fax: 214-867-5636


Fax: 214-867-6601

North Rockwall

Fax: 469-698-7733


Fax: 469-303-4810


Fax: 214-867-5490


Fax: 972-923-8046

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What does pediatric feeding tube dependency mean?

Children with feeding tube dependency cannot eat enough food by mouth to get the calories and nutrition they need for adequate growth and development.

Pediatric feeding tube dependency means that your child needs a feeding tube to get the nutrients they need. Children might not be able to eat all of the foods they need by mouth because of conditions like neuromuscular disorders or sensory issues. Getting the right nutrients is crucial for children’s growth and overall health.

Feeding tubes allow special liquids to travel through into your child’s stomach to help them get the calories and nutrients they need. A feeding tube can be a temporary or permanent solution for feeding problems. Your child may need a feeding tube for a few weeks, while participating in a feeding program, or for the rest of their lives if they have a long-term condition that affects their ability to eat.

What are the different types of pediatric feeding tubes?

Children with feeding tube dependencies may use one of two types of feeding tubes:

Nasogastric tube dependency

A nasogastric tube (NG tube) is a small tube that runs through the nose, down the throat and into the stomach.

Gastrostomy tube dependency

A gastrostomy tube (G-tube) goes directly into the stomach through the abdomen. Gastrostomy tubes can help children who need a feeding tube for more than 6 to 12 months. Your child will need surgery to put their G-tube into place.

Tube feeding for children - Children's Health

What are the signs and symptoms of that my child may need a feeding tube?

Your child might need a feeding tube if:

  • They are not growing as they should.
  • They cannot eat food or enough food by mouth.
  • They cannot eat solid foods by age 3.

How is it determined if my child needs a feeding tube?

There is no diagnostic test that can determine if your child needs a feeding tube. Your child’s doctors might recommend a feeding program or feeding tube if your child is not growing properly or if they are losing weight. They can weigh your child and use your child’s personalized growth chart to determine if your child is a healthy weight and height.

Your child’s providers can talk with you about their nutritional needs and help you determine if a feeding tube is the right choice for them.

What are the causes that my child may need a feeding tube?

Many different health conditions can cause your child to need a feeding tube, including:

  • Premature birth
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Respiratory failure that results in intubation (a tube placed down your child’s throat to help them breathe)
  • Oral aversions to flavors or textures
  • Sensory issues related to autism
  • Heart conditions that make children too tired to eat
  • Behavioral issues related to mealtimes
  • Cancer

Why Children's Health?

At Children’s Health, our goal is to help your child grow. We are home to one of the largest inpatient feeding programs in the country. Your child can remain on their feeding tube while learning skills to help them eat, such as how to swallow safely or how to tolerate different textures of food.

Our unique program gives your child access to psychological counseling, occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy and other treatments to help them learn to eat and enjoy eating. We can also teach parents how to care for NG tubes and G-tubes and feed their children through the tubes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will my child always need a feeding tube?

    Our care team’s goal is to help your child overcome challenges with eating so they can eat enough to stop using a feeding tube. However, children with neuromuscular disorders like Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, or other serious long-term conditions may need a feeding tube for the rest of their lives.

  • Does a nasogastric tube hurt?

    No. Most children get used to a nasogastric tube very quickly and barely notice that it is in their nose.

  • What if my child pulls out their NG tube?

    Most children get used to their NG tube quickly and won’t pull it out. However, if your child does try to pull it out, we can use special devices to keep them from reaching their nose and taking it out.