HealthSheets™


Bolus Tube Feeding

People who can tolerate a normal amount of food at one time can be fed by bolus feeding. Feedings are most often given every 4 to 6 hours during waking hours. They are only given in the stomach. You’ll be told how often to give the feedings and how much water to give the person between feedings. To begin, wash y our hands. Then open and use only the prescribed amount of liquid food (formula).

There are two types of syringes and feeding tubes. One type has a connection that lets you plug or push the syringe tip into the feeding tube. A newer type syringe and feeding tube has a twist on safety connector. This feature means that you must use a specific syringe that twists onto your feeding tube. Check with your care team to make sure you are following the steps for your type of tube.

Twist-type safety syringe and feeding tube

Hands connecting syringe to port on feeding tube.
Step 1. Twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube Pull the plunger out of the syringe. Remove the feeding tube's port cap. Twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube's safety port.

Hands pouring liquid food from can into syringe attached to feeding tube port.
Step 2. Fill the syringe Pour the formula into the syringe. Fill only to the top line on the syringe.

Hand pressing plunger on syringe filled with liquid food attached to feeding tube port.
Step 3. Give the feeding Put the plunger back into the syringe. Then push down slowly on the plunger. OR Hold the syringe straight up and let the formula run through the tube by gravity.

Step 1. Twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube

  • Pull the plunger out of the syringe.

  • Remove the feeding tube's port cap.

  • Twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube's safety port.

Step 2. Fill the syringe

  • Pour the formula into the syringe.

  • Fill only to the top line on the syringe.

Step 3. Give the feeding

  • Put the plunger back into the syringe. Then push down slowly on the plunger.

    OR

  • Hold the syringe straight up and let the formula run through the tube by gravity.

Repeat steps 2 and 3

  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you’ve given the prescribed amount of formula.

  • Unscrew the syringe and replace the tube's port cap.

You can also fill the syringe from a measuring cup.

  • Leave the plunger in the syringe.

  • Pour the formula into the measuring cup.

  • Put the syringe tip into the cup and pull up the plunger. 

  • Then twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube's safety port.

Closeup of hands drawing liquid food into syringe from measuring cup.
You can also fill the syringe from a measuring cup. Leave the plunger in the syringe. Pour the formula into the measuring cup. Put the syringe tip into the cup and pull up the plunger. Then twist the syringe tip onto the feeding tube's safety port. Closeup of hands drawing liquid food into syringe from measuring cup.

Plug-in type syringe and feeding tube

Hands inserting syringe into port on feeding tube.

Hands pouring liquid food from can into syringe attached to feeding tube port.

Hand pressing plunger on syringe filled with liquid food attached to feeding tube port.
Step 3. Give the feeding Put the plunger back into the syringe. Then push down slowly on the plunger. OR Hold the syringe straight up and let the formula run through the tube by gravity.

Step 1. Put the syringe tip in the port

  • Pull the plunger out of the syringe.

  • Open the feeding port cap.

  • Put the syringe tip in the feeding port.

     

Step 2. Fill the syringe

  • Pour the formula into the syringe.

  • Fill only to the top line on the syringe.

Step 3. Give the feeding

  • Put the plunger back into the syringe. Then push down slowly on the plunger.

    OR

  • Hold the syringe straight up and let the formula run through the tube by gravity.

Repeat steps 2 and 3

  • Repeat steps 2 or 3 until you've given the prescribed amount of formula.

  • Remove the syringe and close the port cap.

You can also fill the syringe from a measuring cup.

  • Leave the plunger in the syringe.

  • Pour the formula into the measuring cup.

  • Put the syringe tip into the cup and pull up the plunger. 

  • Then put the tip of the syringe in the feeding port.

Closeup of hands drawing liquid food into syringe from measuring cup.
You can also fill the syringe from a measuring cup. Leave the plunger in the syringe. Pour the formula into the measuring cup. Put the syringe tip into the cup and pull up the plunger. Then put the tip of the syringe in the feeding port. Closeup of hands drawing liquid food into syringe from measuring cup.

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