Information and stories from the NICU World
The timing for starting oral feeding for a preterm baby can vary depending on several factors, such as their gestational age, weight, overall health condition, and ability to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing.
In general, preterm babies who are born before 34 weeks of gestation may not be developmentally ready to feed orally and may require alternative methods of feeding, such as tube feeding or parenteral nutrition (IV nutrition like TPN), for a period of time until they are able to feed orally.
For babies born between 34-37 weeks of gestation, they may be able to start oral feedings earlier, but the timing will still depend on their individual readiness.
The healthcare team caring for your baby will monitor their progress and determine when they are ready to start oral feedings. Feel free to ask your baby’s medical providers when they think she/he will be ready and what signs they are watching for in order to start trying oral feeds. This way you too are monitoring your baby for these signs and wil be able to tell when your baby is ready.