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Improve your Baby’s Feeding with Sensory Input

Providing sensory input helps get your baby in an optimal state for feeding. According to research, an optimal state helps babies be more responsive and organized, which results in more quality feeding! Research shows us that using sensory input prior to feedings improves feeding quality and it is likely because the sensory input is mimicking in-utero experiences.

This strategy can be used with any baby but is especially helpful for premature infants, infants with feeding difficulties or disorders, infants who are working on weaning from tube feedings, and infants who take a long time to latch or are disorganized when introduced the breast or bottle.

Ways to offer your baby sensory input to optimize their feedings:

•AUDITORY👂🏼: talk or sing to your baby

•TOUCH 👋🏼 : give your baby a massage. gently stroke their body, legs and arms


-gently stroke your baby’s face, cheeks, lips and gums

-if baby tolerates smooth stimulation with your finger, next you can introduce a textured teether or oral motor tool for added stimulation. If your baby shows sign of discomfort, read their cues and stop ✋🏻

SUCKING & SWALLOWING/ TASTE: offer your baby a dry paci to practice their non-nutritive sucking. If they tolerate it well, offer small tastes of breast milk or formula on the paci to encourage more swallowing practice.

OLFACTORY/SMELL👃: Let your baby smell you and the breast milk or formula.

🌟you do NOT need to offer all of these sensory experiences each feeding. You can offer just one or a combination of any of them 🌟

Klein & Delaney, 1994; Wolf & Glass, 1992; Rhooms, Dow, Brandon, Zhao, & Fucile, 2018.

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