Preparing to Wean Enteral Tube Feeds

Factors to consider before reducing tube feed volume include:

  • interdisciplinary supports available
  • timeframe for weaning
  • current medical status and overall medical complexity
  • type of tube used for feeding
  • age, oral sensorimotor function, sensory preferences of the child
  • oral intake and hydration monitoring – may need to set a minimum acceptable fluid intake, consider water via tube to replace feeds
  • growth – set an agreed goal for acceptable weight loss or time frame before building up again
  • energy levels and/or alertness during the day – is this related to medication, do they need a top-up bolus?
  • family’s ability to support the weaning process 
  • action plan for re-insertion if a tube is removed

Ongoing reassessment of swallow, feeding skills, nutrition, growth, hydration status, and respiratory status are recommended during the weaning process and after enteral feeds have been discontinued.