Yes, almost all children with feeding tubes can swim!

Children who have NG-tubes have no restrictions on swimming, other than making sure the tube is closed, clamped, and not hooked up to a feeding pump.

Most children with G-tubes, GJ-tubes, and J-tubes are also able to swim and splash in the water without too many restrictions. There is one exception to this rule: children with brand new stomas that are less than two months old should not swim.

In general, most doctors recommend sticking to well-maintained chlorinated or saltwater pools and oceans when swimming, as lakes and rivers may have unsafe water quality. If you do want your child to swim in a lake or river, it is best to first check the water quality of the body of water, and then ask your child’s doctor. The CDC’s Healthy Swimming website is a good place to start to learn about water quality. Check the EPA’s Beach site to make sure there are no warnings about the beach you plan on visiting.

Public hot tubs are not advised, as the hot temperature of the water tends to breed bacteria.

If at all possible, unhook your child from the feeding while swimming, and remove the extension set if applicable. Clamp long tubes or NG-tubes and secure them so they do not get caught while swimming. If you will be in a sandy area, you may want to cover the entire tube site and feeding tube with a clear, protective dressing, such as AquaGuard or Tegaderm. Press and Seal plastic wrap and waterproof tape can also be used.

Children hooked up to feeding pumps should not submerge the pump in the water. The Moog Infinity pump is designed to be somewhat waterproof, so it can be worn while splashing, though you may still want to place it in a plastic zipper bag for greater protection. Children with the Kangaroo Joey pump should avoid both splashing and swimming while the pump is in use. Some children have used extra long extension tubing to allow swimming while keeping the pump far away and dry, but this must be done with extreme caution, and only with children who understand the limitations of their tubing.

If a child cannot be disconnected from the feeding pump to swim, a dry suit may be another option. This type of suit forms a complete seal, allowing a child to wear the feeding pump while swimming. Unfortunately, dry suits must be custom fit and are quite expensive.

Children with compromised immune systems or other unique feeding tube issues should consult their physicians before swimming.

Further Resources