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Using non-nutritive sucking to support feeding development for premature infants: A commentary on approaches and current practice

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James LawORCiD


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© © 2018 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. Non-nutritive sucking is often used with premature infants by either using a pacifier or an expressed breast nipple to support the introduction and development of early oral feeding. The pattern of non-nutritive sucking is distinct in that it involves two sucks per second in contrast to nutritive sucking which is one suck per second. Although some literature has identified that non-nutritive sucking has some benefit for the premature infant's feeding development, it is not entirely clear why such an approach is helpful as neurologically, activation of non-nutritive and nutritive skills are different. A summary is presented of the main approaches that use non-nutritive sucking with reference to the literature. This paper also considers other factors and beneficial approaches to managing the introduction of infant feeding. These are: the infant's toleration of enteral feeds pre oral trials, overall development and gestational age when introducing oral experiences, developing swallowing skills before sucking, physiological stability, health status, as well as the development and interpretation of infant oral readiness signs and early communication.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harding C, Cockerill H, Cane C, Law J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine

Year: 2018

Volume: 11

Issue: 3

Pages: 147-152

Online publication date: 26/09/2018

Acceptance date: 24/06/2018

ISSN (print): 1874-5393

ISSN (electronic): 1875-8894

Publisher: IOS Press


DOI: 10.3233/PRM-170442

PubMed id: 29125505


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