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Identification of premature infant states in relation to introducing oral feeding

Harding, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-5192-2027, Mynard, A. & Hills, E. (2018). Identification of premature infant states in relation to introducing oral feeding. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 24(2), pp. 104-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jnn.2017.11.018


Recognizing oral readiness signs in infants is vital when planning the introduction of oral feeding. However, with premature infants, this can be difficult to gauge accurately because of immature development.

Twenty three staff from a level 2 neonatal unit participated. A questionnaire elicited knowledge about oral readiness and other factors related to oral feeding with premature infants. Participant knowledge of the written Als (1986) infant state descriptors was completed. A comparison was made of the skills in identification of the various infant states on video without and with written descriptors (Als, 1986). Correlations investigated if years of experience and grade had any relation to accurate infant state identification.

There was wide variation in the type of training about premature infant feeding participants had received. Participants (65%) recognized the importance of oral readiness signs in relation to feeding development. A Wilcoxon signed ranks test revealed no significant differences in ability to identify infant states without and with the written Als (1986) descriptors when observing infant video materials. When not using the written descriptors, there was a strong negative correlation between grade and the identification of the [Active sleep] state, (p < 0.01), and a strong positive correlation between grade and the identification of the [Drowsy] state, (p < 0.05). There were no strong correlations between grade and years working when using the written descriptors.

Oral readiness signs are important when introducing oral feeding with premature infants. However, accurate identification of oral readiness remains challenging.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Premature, Infant feeding, Oral readiness, Oral feeding, Interaction
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
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Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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