Feeding Fundamentals provides a variety of continuing education resources for the professional (nurses, speech/language pathologists, physical and occupational therapists, lactation consultants, physicians, and other professionals supporting infants and families who are working on establishing and maintaining enjoyable mealtimes.) SOFFI SM: Supporting Oral Feeding in Fragile Infants 2-day training is now offered both in live locations as well as via a series of webinars. Additional webinars are available to learn about the parent education program, “Home with SOFFI SM”, which is offered for a licensing fee to hospital and inpatient settings who have at least one professional trained in the use of the SOFFI SM Algorithm and/or the 2-day SOFFI SM training. Upcoming continuing education offerings will include a certification in the use of the SOFFI SM Algorithm. We are also planning on offering the SOFFI SM training as an online course for professionals who are not able to attend a live presentation, in response to requests from around the world. To date, the training has been conducted in many countries, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, France, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland. In 2014, the first international SOFFI SM Training Center was opened in Brest, France.
What is SOFFI SM ?
SOFFISM is an integrated approach to supporting oral feeding in preterm and in medically complex infants, both in the NICU and in the Early Intervention setting. The primary approach is offered in-person across 2 days, and provides the practitioner with evidence-based information regarding feeding development as well as assessment and intervention strategies. SOFFI SM is guided by the SOFFI SM Algorithm, which is a clinical decision-making algorithm designed to ensure all feeders use the same critical thinking during feedings. In 2013, the National Association of Neonatal Nurses highly recommended the use of the SOFFI SM Algorithm in conjunction with their “Infant-Directed Oral Feeding for Premature and Critically Ill Hospitalized Infants: Guideline for Practice” (Sables-Baus, S., et al., 2013.) “The SOFFI algorithm is grounding in similar principles as described in this guideline.” National Association of Neonatal Nurses
SOFFI SM is the only intervention to date that followed infants both within the NICU setting AND after discharge, when parents were the primary feeders. Additionally, it is the ONLY intervention to date that is designed for both premature infants, and infants with medical comorbidities - both preterm and term.
SOFFI SM provides a framework, that is constructed using the following assumptions:
Feeding is an interactive process that requires an ongoing assessment of an infant’s physiology and behavior throughout the feeding
Feeders (professionals and parents) need to know how to observe the infant’s physiology and behaviors throughout a feeding, so that they can understand the communication of the infant during feeding. Since every experience (both pleasant and unpleasant) is influencing the brain development (and therefore learning) of the infant, feeders must have a shared “vocabulary” of understanding the sometimes subtle indications related to how the feeding is going. Research shows us that parents need professional guidance to know what to look for, and how to respond to help their infant in times of distress. (Thoyre, et al, 2016) SOFFI SM Method teaches professionals how to recognize, and how to teach parents to look for, infant behaviors that indicate a readiness to engage, or a need to provide a break and to provide additional supports, during a feeding. The SOFFI SM Algorithm provides a structured pathway to follow, to encourage the ongoing assessment of infant physiology and behaviors.
Conscious, knowledgeable decisions on the part of the feeder support immediate and long-term enjoyment of food
SOFFI SM uses the SOFFI SM Algorithm to identify the critical decision-points during a feeding that every feeder needs to consider. This Algorithm connects the understanding of how to interpret infant physiology and behaviors to a consistent response from the caregivers. This consistency is related to the final assumption.
Identification and implementation of evidence-based interventions to support skill development provides a consistent environment within which infant learning occurs
There are several interventions that are correlated with improved quality of feedings for infants in the hospital setting – both premature infants and infants with medical comorbidities. The Algorithm identifies these interventions. The goal of the SOFFI SM training, as well as the Algorithm, is to decrease the variability in both recognizing and responding appropriately to infant behaviors.