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An Evidence-Based Guideline for Introducing Oral Feeding to Healthy Preterm Infants

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The ability of a preterm infant to make the transition from gavage to oral nipple feeding depends on the infant's neurodevelopment in relation to behavioral organization, to a rhythmic suck-swallow-breathe pattern, and to cardiorespiratory regulation. Research-based knowledge about infant neurodevelopment in these three areas has led to the creation of a semidemand feeding method to aid in this transition. The method combines the use of nonnutritive sucking to promote awake behavior for feeding, use of behavioral assessment to identify readiness for feeding, and systematic observation of and response to infant behavior cues to regulate frequency, length, and volume of oral feedings. Semidemand feeding may be individualized for healthy preterm infants. This article discusses both the relevant knowledge about neurodevelopment and the semidemand feeding method itself.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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