Feeding Therapy 101: NANT 8 Pre-Conference Session 1

By Sue Ludwig

When I was a new(er) neonatal therapist I flew across the country to see Lynn Wolf and Robin Glass present about feeding at a large conference. I have no recollection of the exact conference, but I remember that learning about feeding from ACTUAL, real, live neonatal therapists was like finding water in the desert.  

Despite being mentored in my own NICU, I had to be sure that I was doing the right thing outside of what I’d learned there. I wanted to validate what I did know and advance my knowledge where I saw gaps. I gained not only knowledge, but confidence and inspiration. It was a pivotal moment.  

In the past 2 years, we’ve dedicated several hours of NANT’s 2-day Main Conference to the science and support of breastfeeding. The NANT 8 Main Conference includes this topic as well (as it should).  

However, it’s been 4 years since the Pre-Conference, with its extended time frames for deeper learning, has focused on foundational knowledge related to feeding therapy. And somewhere along the line in your development as a neonatal therapist, this knowledge is imperative. Even if your role does not include feeding, having an understanding of the science, practices, art, equipment, and goals of neonatal feeding enables you to contribute to the efficacy and safety of your unit’s feeding practice.  

Take a moment to learn more about Pre-Con Session 1 below.

Presenter: Cynthia Armstrong, M.S., CCC-SLP, BCS-S, CNT 

Title: Feeding Therapy 101 

  1. Introduction – 30 minutes
  • History of ͞feeding͟ in the NICU 
  • Current goals of NICU feeding 
  • Obstacles to achieving developmental feeding goals 
  • Ideal requirements for a NICU feeding therapist 
  1. Anatomy and Physiology of Swallowing – 30 minutes
  • Infant vs Child vs Adult 
  • Bedside evaluation, FEES, MBS 
  • Oxygen needs and feeding 
  1. Prefeedingtherapy and developmental care – 60 min  
  • Evaluation 
  • Treatment 
  • Key players for success 
  1. Beginning to bottle feed in the NICU – 30 min
  • Readiness 
  • Appropriate candidates 
  • Setting the stage 
  • Ways to measure success 
  • Progression 
  1. Strategies to improve feeding success – 30 min
  • Compensations and recommendations 
  • Special populations and their specific issues with feeding 
  1. Discharge home from NICU – 15 min
  • Commercial bottle/nipple choices 
  • Alternative feeding options 
  • Referrals 
  1. Case studies – 15 min
  2. Questions and answers – 15 min

Objectives for this presentation: 

As a result of participation in this continuing education activity, participants should be able to:  

1) Identify how premature infants’ needs differ from and correlate with term newborns.  

2) List common misconceptions in the general NICU community regarding feeding and bottle choices.  

3) Describe the therapist’s role in the NICU feeding environment and the necessity for OT, PT, and/or SLP as a consistent presence in the NICU.  

If you’re interested in attending this presentation and/or Pre-Con Session II, be sure to register ASAP as Pre-Con seating is limited. Click here to learn more about the Pre- Conference agendas and objectives. (Registration Packages 2 & 3 include options to attend Pre-Conference(s).)  

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