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“Our commitment is to infants and their families, and the professionals working with them. We will continue to work hard to ‘change the conversation’ to one focused on the quality of the infant’s oral feeding skill development.”  – Dr. Erin Ross, Ph.D. President, Feeding Fundamentals and author of SOFFI®

We strongly believe oral feeding for infants is a neurobehavioral task; one that begins as the premature and medically fragile infant who continues to grow and develop in the  NICU setting, and well after discharge. We believe the NICU environment can build a strong foundation for the infant’s lifetime of eating experiences.

Historically, feeding interventions offered to infants in the NICU have been concentrated on accelerating the acquisition of oral feeding milestones and on the steady increase of volume intake at each successive oral feeding attempt.

Quality feedings are defined ideally as enjoyable experiences for both the infant and the feeder, during which the infants eats sufficient volumes for appropriate growth.

For both premature and medically fragile infants, quality feedings can be described across three parameters:  Skill, Efficiency, and Endurance.

Once quality feedings are established, the ability to display quality eating skills consistently is the last hurdle from a feeding standpoint, prior to going home.

Typically, quantity is a reflection and an outcome of quality feedings.   It is not “Quantity versus Quality”….

Homeostasis:  The Core Foundation Of Learning

Homeostasis:  The ability to maintain internal regulation in the face of incoming challenges (internal and external).

Feeding is a developmental skill that challenges the homeostasis of the infant.  Initially, infants focus their attention inward – towards stabilizing their physiologic systems (heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygenation, digestion).

Motor skills and abilities (flexion, movement, tone) reflect the infant’s striving towards homeostasis, as does their behavioral state (level of arousal and alertness.)

As the infant achieves some level of homeostasis, they are freed up to turn some of their attention and interaction outwards – towards learning new tasks and achieving a new level of homeostasis. In this context, the feeder can monitor the infant’s baseline stability across these subsystems, as described in the Synactive Theory of Behavioral Organization.

While learning any new task, a small perturbation in the baseline stability is expected. However, if the disruption in baseline stability is too great, the infant may avoid learning the new task in support of their more stable level of functioning.

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