Special Needs Sunday: Clothing kids with g-tubes

27 Jul

Photo by phrenologist

I’ve gotten several requests for information about what kind of clothes we dress Jenna in to accommodate a g-tube.  For the most part, we dress her like any other kids, but there were plenty of times, especially after she first got her g-tube, that I came home from shopping with some beautiful things that I quickly realized were not ideally suited for easy g-tube use (one piece knit outfits, for instance).  We have made a few, occasional clothing modifications and have learned a few things from trial and error, so I’ll share those with you.

I already mentioned that we use zipper pajamas and simply cut a hole for her tube to come out.  We haven’t had any problem with the fabric fraying or tearing in the length of time she wears them before outgrowing.  When she was an infant, we looked for snap pajamas and had the tube come out between the snaps.  We briefly tried two piece pajamas with tops and bottoms, but the pants fell right off our little skinnykins.  Two piece pajamas with snaps at the waist were wonderful (pants stayed on!), but unfortunately relatively hard to find.

Tee shirts or blouses with jeans or knit pants are an obviously easy choice, because you can sneak the tube under the shirt without having to modify anything.  Our problem has always been that pants do not stay up well on Jenna.  Because she wasn’t even on the weight charts, you can imagine her stick-likeness.  No hips or butt equals nothing to hold pants up (oh, to have such a problem myself!).  I have a crafty aunt and mom who did a lot of altering for us to help pants fit, and, in the summer, we found that infant sized pants had smaller waists that worked as capris or shorts.  We went through a “phase” where the waistband of separate pants rubbed and irritated her g-tube, so we dressed her primarily in coveralls and dresses.

With coveralls (yes – they make “girly” ones, but we also used plain, “boy” ones), the tube can easily sneak out the side at the waist.  Dresses work too, but sometimes need modifying because when you run the tube out from under the dress, part of it is pulled up in a not-very-“lady-like” fashion.  If the dress has buttons or snaps in the back, you can sneak the tube out there.  If there are no buttons or snaps, you can modify the dress like we do pajamas – with a small slit in the waist, side or back. 

When Jenna was an infant, we quickly decided that depsite their popularity with humanity in general, onsies were not ideal for us.  It was too big of a hassle to thread the tube out through the onesie leg.  When we DID put her in onesies, we learned to leave the crotch snaps undone whenever possible so we could get to her tube more easily.

We haven’t ever modified swimming suits, because we just don’t hook her up to her feeding pump when she’s in it, and the suit goes over her “button” just fine.  If you needed to, I would guess that you could easily cut a slit in the swimsuit to accomodate the g-tube because it would most likely be made from a fabric that wouldn’t fray or tear.  Same for dance leotards or other similar, stretchy bodysuits.

Finally, a couple additional clothing “tricks” I have learned would be to fold the waistband of her diapers down so they don’t rub against the g-tube site and irritate it, and to unsnap and/or roll down the waistband of separate pants (especially denim jeans with heavier fabric) down when she is sitting for a long time like on long car trips, again, to help limit any irritation.

I don’t feel like any of this is any kind of profound advice, but maybe there’s a tidbit of useful information in there that will help someone.  What we’ve struggled with the most has been how to keep her untangled from the feeding tube during overnight feeds when she’s tossing and turning in her sleep.  I don’t know how many times we have been awakened in the night to either an alarming pump that has become disconnected or a screaming baby who is soaking wet because the tube came disconnected or because she is hopelessly tangled.  Ugh.  Maybe that’s a post for another time….


Posted by on July 27, 2008 in Parenting tips, Special Needs


13 responses to “Special Needs Sunday: Clothing kids with g-tubes

  1. anne watson barber

    March 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

    thanks for the great tips! This is handy for caregivers who deal with adult fullsized folks with GI tubes and incontinence issues as well. If you don’t mind, I linked to your site and cited it in my blog (

  2. amber

    August 27, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Tummy Tunnels helped with all those onsie problems 🙂

  3. DMac

    October 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I ran across your blog and would love your feedback concerning my line of special needs clothing!

  4. psychmamma

    October 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    DMac –

    All your clothes are beautiful! I’m curious about how they’re “adaptive.” There were no descriptions of the clothing. Do you “hide” an opening for tubing? I also didn’t see any prices, so that would be good to know as well.

    Thanks for the link!

  5. Corki Roth

    October 21, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I also have a daughter that has a g-tube. My mother in law is creating a onsie that the side snaps open and still closes at the bottom. If you need to feed, you just unsnap the side and hook her up. We are trying to see if there is a big interest in this and so if anyone is interested, let me know, we can work on getting these out to whoever needs them.

  6. Rebecca

    October 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

    oh the alarming pump in the middle of the night! and the soaking child/bed. i hate that part of tube feedings……….our baby is on the pump 18 hrs/day at this time and wow. it’s an all consuming job. I”m wondering about clothing also……..our girl wears primarlily dresses and you are right…..i hate how you have to hike them up on the side but i also dont’ want to cut evrything she wears bc then the material around the cut irritates her skin……..any ideas?

  7. Tracy

    February 20, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Thanks for the info… I too have a daughter who has a G-tube… I did the same thing with all of her clothing… I started modifieing all her outfits so she could wear clothing instead of onesies all the time or button P.J.s… I also put a pocket on the inside of the clothes so when the G-tube not in use can be rolled up and tucked away but still able to be easy access! I also am selling clothing to help other mothers who do not know how to sew or don’t have the time… my website is I just opened it, no takers yet, but I just hope that other mothers out there who have a child like ours get the info to be able to help them out also…. Thanks for the info….

  8. Sweet Lemonade

    June 6, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Sweet Lemonade offers custom clothing for children with special needs. All features are discreet and resemble mainstream clothing. or visit at the Independence Expo on Long Island!

  9. Carly Persons

    June 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Tracy, I wasn’t able to pull up your website.

  10. Shaunny

    June 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    tracy- i am able to pull up your webpage either. Our daughter is 14 months and I am lookingfor g tube clothingfor her and it is a pain!

  11. karen

    August 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

    if you get on facebook there is a page called Amanda’s Things that is clothng for babies with g-tubes, the onsies start at $10.00 and the dresses start at $15.00. The company is just getting started so they will have more of a selection as soon as new items can be made

  12. Taylor Anne

    September 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Hi everyone, my name is Taylor and I’m a Fashion Design student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver and I’m looking into developing my thesis around clothing for girls age 3-6 years old that have G-tube access and wheelchair capabilities. I would appreciate any feedback about shopping habits (where/why), problems experienced with children’s clothing, and age ranges (is 3-6 appropriate?) If anyone is willing to do a more indepth interview with me I would love to communicate with you via email.

    Thanks so much in advance!

  13. sally ortega

    October 7, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I am looking for sleep and play for a special need child with a GTube, can u respond either by phone or e-mail. Thank U (956)463-9672 or


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