Pediatric Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition



Enteral and parenteral nutrition are feeding tubes and intravenous catheters used to provide your child nutrition.

Expanded overview

Enteral and parenteral nutrition are ways of helping your child get the nutrition they need when normal eating and drinking becomes difficult or impossible.

Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition is commonly known as tube feeding. A nasogastric (NG) tube may be placed in your child’s nose and down the throat to the stomach so nutrition can be delivered without chewing or swallowing. A gastrostomy tube (G-tube) can also be inserted directly into the stomach during a small surgical procedure. Either way, your child can receive special nutritious formula through the tube either several times a day or continuously.

Parenteral Nutrition

Parenteral nutrition is sometimes called total parenteral nutrition (TPN). This type of nutrition involves delivering nutrients directly into your child’s bloodstream using a catheter that is inserted into a vein.


There are two main types of catheters used for parenteral nutrition:

  • Central line catheter - often used for infants and young children, it is surgically placed into a large vein in your child’s chest or neck so it can reach the superior vena cava (the large vein near the heart).
  • PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line - inserted into your child’s arm or hand and the catheter is threaded upward through the vein to the superior vena cava.


Enteral nutrition may be prescribed for children who have:

Parenteral nutrition may be prescribed for children who have problems with the digestive tract that make it difficult or impossible to digest food.

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