How to prevent and care for aspiration

It is important to prevent and care for aspiration when your child requires tube feeding. Tube feeding is a way of giving liquid food (often formula) directly into the stomach or small bowel. The formula provides the body with the nutrients needed for good health. Aspiration occurs when formula or water enters the lungs. It is a very serious problem as it can cause breathing problems and infection. 

Signs of Aspiration

  1. Coughing and/or choking during the feed
  2. Change in breathing pattern to difficult, noisy or rapid shallow breathing.
  3. Wet, gurgling voice
  4. Pale or bluish lips Prevention

To prevent and care for aspiration 

  1. Always check to make sure the Nasogastric tube is in the correct place.
  2. Sit upright or raise the head of the bed 30 – 45degrees during the feed and for 30-60 minutes after the feed is finished. If you think an aspiration has occurred: Stop the feed right away Put your child in a lying position with the head and neck in a neutral position or ensure that your child is sitting upright and that the airway is clear If you have a suction machine, you may use it. Check color Monitor temp

If your child’s breathing does not improve after taking these steps, follow the direction of your doctor.

If you have any questions, please call Canuck Place: 604-742-3475

If you have any feedback to help us improve this document, please email

How to prevent and care for aspiration pdf 218.13 kb