Preterm infants develop the skills necessary to begin oral feeding as their health stabilizes and as they reach a postconceptional age that supports coordination of breathing and swallowing with oral-motor functioning. The time from initiation of oral feeding to full oral feedings (with adequate intake for growth and maintenance of physiologic stability) can vary from days to months for the preterm infant. The approach to feeding the infant during this transition period must be developmentally supportive and tailored to meet the needs of the individual. To accomplish this, caregivers—notably nurses and parents—need to communicate about the specific skills that the infant has gained, about skills that are emerging, and about skills that the infant has not yet developed. The Early Feeding Skills (EFS) Assessment is a checklist for assessing infant readiness for and tolerance of feeding and for profiling the infant's developmental stage regarding specific feeding skills: the abilities to remain engaged in feeding, organize oral-motor functioning, coordinate swallowing with breathing, and maintain physiologic stability. This article introduces the EFS.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2005