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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to put a G tube into a doll

I've been thinking about making Raya a "tubie doll" for a while now and I finally did it. :) My mom gave her a really nice soft-bodied doll (an American Girl baby doll that she got at a garage sale) for Christmas and Raya is very into babies right now, so I thought it would be a good time to do it. I know there are a lot of other people who want to do the same thing so even though this was my first time doing a G tube placement surgery on a doll, I thought I'd share how I did it. (Here are some other "how-to" posts.)

First, I put Raya in bed so she wouldn't help me and got all the supplies together:

Mark the spot where the tube will go. I put it in about the same spot Raya's is in. :) The hole needs to be round so that it won't tear, so use a seam ripper to carefully poke a hole.
It really is a shame that Raya didn't inherit my enormous bulging veins. Phlebotomists love me. :)
I wanted the hole to stay round and be JUST big enough to fit the tube in but no bigger, so I worked the seam ripper around to stretch the hole until it was big enough for one blade of the scissors.
When I had it large enough to put both blades of the scissors in, I twisted the scissors around a little more and checked to see if it was big enough, and it was. Then I sealed the doll's "stoma" with clear nail polish (how do I not have any Fray Check??) to keep it from fraying or getting bigger.
I thought about adding some granulation tissue but decided to avoid unnecessary pain & suffering for the doll. :)

Because the tube I was using had been a defective tube (the balloon popped for no apparent reason & the tube fell out while Raya was taking a nap once) there were a lot of loose pieces of the popped balloon hanging off of the tube. I cut all that was left of the balloon off so that it would be easier to get it in the hole and so that it wouldn't be a choking hazard if the tube were to ever get pulled out of the doll. I didn't trim the length of the tube at all because I wanted to make sure it was long enough to sew in securely.
Now comes the tricky part. It wasn't as hard to push a needle through it as I thought it would be. First, thread a needle, make the ends of the thread even, and tie a knot in the end.
When you're sewing through the stoma & tube, push the needle through the fabric first, then the tube, and then push the needle up through the layer of fabric on the other side.
Repeat until you've gone all the way around the tube and sewn it in securely. I think I did about 8-10 passes through the tube. I didn't want to do too many because I didn't want to make the tube weak enough to tear.
Ta-da! The whole process only took about 30 minutes, which is approximately 10 minutes longer than it took for Raya's surgeon to place her G tube. My patient didn't take nearly as long to wake up from anesthesia though. :)
Raya really loves her "tummy pretties" (G tube pads) so I put one of them on the doll before Kaida gave it to her. I hadn't expected her to get excited about it since the doll has been around for a few weeks now but Kaida gave it to her while she was in her crib and when I went in a few minutes later, she was just staring at the doll. When I walked in, she pointed to the doll's tube and said, "MOMMY! MY TUBIE!" I had a broken extension tube laying around so I gave it to her so she could feed her baby and a few minutes later, I saw this:
I thought it was adorable, even if it's not normal for a 2 year old to know how to connect an extension tube to the MicKey button in her doll's tummy. :) I'm SO glad I did this and glad that I had a defective tube laying around so that I didn't have to feel guilty about using a functional one. :)


  1. The last picture is adorable :) good job mommy!!

  2. I love this! I would like to share your idea with the Children's hospital here in WI, so that they can have "super tubie dolls in their playrooms. Thanks so much!

  3. That's awesome! I might have to try it one day! THat's a really good tutorial!

  4. This is soo awesome!!! Thank you so much for posting this, trying it out on a cabbage patch today for my daughter's Christmas present!

  5. Awesome, can't wait to try it on a doll, although using the same techniqe I'm gonna add a trach to the doll, my daughter has a trach and gbutton, wish me luck

  6. Just did it on a cabbage patch, thanks for the instructions!

  7. Love this, and so easy to do, have to do it for my girl now :) I've been trying to think of a good gift to give her for her birthday which is in two weeks, now I know what to do.

  8. Great job on the "tubie doll" and an AWESOME tutorial with great details and photos!

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  10. Great tutorial.. I make special angel dolls, many which have gtubes inserted.. Customers have to send me the gtube to insert, because I have no way of getting them myself. I never thought of telling customers I can use one with a broken balloon! What a great idea!! Ps.. Your little girl is adorable, and I love the picture of her with her Bitty Baby..


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