Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Speech and language therapy interventions for infants with feeding difficulties: considerations for service provision

Premature and medically fragile term infants receiving care on a neonatal unit are likely to have feeding difficulties. The provision of assessment and intervention from speech and language therapy (SLT) is vital as it improves short- and long-term feeding outcomes, which can reduce length of stay and improve quality of life for infants and their families. The anticipated investment in maternity services and a surge of funding for allied health professionals on neonatal units should improve service provision, including SLT, and have a positive impact on infant outcomes. This paper outlines the suck feeding journey and an ideal model of care for these infants, which focusses on improving neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Nicoll Bell
Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist for Neonates, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Bell N. Speech and language therapy interventions for infants with feeding difficulties: considerations for service provision. Infant 2024; 20(1): 29-31.

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feeding difficulties; speech and language therapy; neonatal care; models of care
Key points
  1. Many infants receiving care on a neonatal unit will have feeding difficulties.
  2. Specialist assessment and intervention from a SLT can improve feeding outcomes.
  3. Data showing the outcomes of specific SLT intervention are limited.
  4. Having normative data for infants’ feeding journeys distributed by gestational age, will provide valuable information for advising parents of possible feeding timelines and inform staffing guidelines for SLTs.

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