Babies have specific needs that assist them in their development and enable them to thrive. Feeding is an important aspect of development. When feeding, there are opportunities for babies to develop a positive interactive bond with parents. This has a long-term impact on the well-being of infants in terms of emotional development, social learning, and health. Infants born prematurely and those born with specific needs making them vulnerable are likely to develop the necessary skills to allow them to mature, interact and thrive.
Many premature infants may need alternative feeding methods until they are ready to develop the skills necessary for oral feeding. A beneficial approach for infants who are showing oral readiness is the use of a non-nutritive sucking programme. This paper explores the research that supports non-nutritive sucking, and considers other variables that need to be included in further research, including those infants who have neurodisability.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Ethics approval: Ethical approval was granted by the local Trust.
Patient consent: Parental consent obtained.