We hypothesised that lower mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy values would be associated with a greater incidence of gastrointestinal complications in children weighing <10 kg who were recovering from cardiac surgery. We evaluated mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy, central venous oxygen saturation, and arterial blood gases for 48 hours post-operatively. Enteral feeding intake, gastrointestinal complications, and markers of organ dysfunction were monitored for 7 days. A total of 50 children, with median age of 16.7 (3.2–31.6) weeks, were studied. On admission, the average mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy value was 71±18%, and the systemic oxygen saturation was 93±7.5%. Lower admission mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy correlated with longer time to establish enteral feeds (r=−0.58, p<0.01) and shorter duration of feeds at 7 days (r=0.48, p<0.01). Children with gastrointestinal complications had significantly lower admission mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy (58±18% versus 73±17%, p=0.01) and higher mesenteric arteriovenous difference of oxygen at admission [39 (23–47) % versus 19 (4–27) %, p=0.02]. Based on multiple logistic regression, admission mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy was independently associated with gastrointestinal complications (Odds ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.93–0.97; p=0.03). Admission mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy showed an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.76 to identify children who developed gastrointestinal complications, with a suggested cut-off value of 72% (78% sensitivity, 68% specificity). In this pilot study, we conclude that admission mesenteric near-infrared spectroscopy is associated with gastrointestinal complications and enteral feeding tolerance in children after cardiac surgery.