Grant Application

Kelly Fill, MOTR/L, of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC


Proposed Innovation

For preterm and high-risk infants, oral feeding is an especially challenging and complex task. A delay in acquiring feeding skills can result in a prolonged stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and lead to persistent feeding problems throughout childhood.

Through this grant from the Beckwith Institute, the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh will introduce a more standardized, infant-driven feeding model that will help minimize caregiver stress and promote positive feeding experiences.


Improvements in Action

A comprehensive education curriculum titled “Infant-Driven Feeding®: Advancing Oral Feeding Practice in the NICU,” will be purchased through this project. This online course introduces an evidence-based, reproducible oral feeding practice that allows the infant to drive feeding practice and emphasizes the critical role of NICU parents in the feeding process.

All NICU nurses, feeding therapists, nurse practitioners, and neonatologists involved with infant feeding will be encouraged to participate. A multidisciplinary group of NICU staff identified as “Super Users” will help launch the infant-driven feeding training program and serve as a resource for questions and concerns. They also will be involved in generating outcome data.


Results — In Progress

Changing from a volume-driven feeding model to an infant-driven model is expected to result in improved outcomes for preterm, high-risk infants, including a reduction in oral and feeding aversions, a decrease in feeding-related hospital tests and procedures, shorter NICU stays, and a better and quicker transition to full oral feedings. Parents will also benefit from this structured, nurturing approach to feeding their babies.