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Feeding Challenges and Solutions for Premature Babies

Feeding Challenges and Solutions for Premature Babies
Feeding Challenges and Solutions for Premature Babies

Author: Dr. Sanjay Wazir

MBBS, MD - Pediatrics, DM – Neonatology

Consultant: Medical Director (NCR)- Neonatology at Motherhood Hospital Gurgaon

Feeding Challenges and Solutions for Premature Babies

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) have special feeding and nutritional needs. Dr Sanjay Wazir, MBBS, MD-Paediatrics, DM-Neonatology, Medical Director (NCR)-Neonatology, tells us that preemies often need extra support to grow and continue developing. Some preemies may not have the strength or coordination to breastfeed or bottle-feed. They can, however, overcome this challenge with a little help and patience. As a parent, you need to understand your baby, learn some techniques, and know when to consult the top paediatrician in Gurgaon for expert help. 

Feeding Challenges and Solutions for Premature Babies

In the early stages, your preemie may find it challenging to eat. This is because of their underdeveloped muscles, nervous system, and other body parts. Hence, they may find it difficult to gulp and digest enough milk. Dr. Sanjay Wazir tells us that around 49% of preemies have feeding problems due to the following issues:

1.Lack of Sucking Skills

Unlike normal babies, preemies are not born with mature sucking skills. To drink milk from a bottle or breast, the babies need to suck that is coordinated and does not interfere with their breathing patterns. Babies who are unable to coordinate may choke or stop breathing entirely.

2.Lack of Strength

Babies need to have developed muscles in their tongues and jaws to suck and swallow milk easily. Eventually, the preemies develop this strength with practice. Until then, you may notice your baby getting exhausted during a feeding session. When you observe such, it is time for you to visit the top paediatrician in Gurgaon for consultation.

3.Underdeveloped Digestive System

Preemies are born with underdeveloped gastrointestinal tracts. This means that even if your baby takes the milk in, he might not be able to get the nutrients from it. The stomachs of preemies are not proficient in breaking down milk proteins.

4.Medical Conditions

Preemies are prone to developing medical conditions such as low body fat, breathing problems, jaundice, and so forth.

How to Feed Your Premature Baby?

According to the top paediatrician in Gurgaon, the feeding method of your baby in the NICU may depend on their gestational age and medical conditions. The doctors may combine one method with the other for better results.


Although difficult sometimes preemies do get a hang of nursing in the NICU.


To bottle-feed, you can either pump your breast milk or use a formula in the bottle. Sometimes the top paediatrician in Gurgaon may recommend feeding your baby with breast milk or formula from a bottle to check the amount of milk your baby is having.

3.Feeding Tube

A feeding tube is used when your baby is unable to get milk from breast or bottle feeding. In such cases, they may need a gastronomic tube that feeds directly into their stomach. Babies on feeding tubes are also given a pacifier to strengthen their mouth muscles and practice their sucking skills.

4.Intravenous Line

This is considered the last resort and is usually restricted to babies with serious medical conditions. In this method, an intravenous line directly feeds and supplies the nutrients into the baby’s bloodstream.

Preemies require extra care as compared to normal babies. The top paediatrician in Gurgaon recommends skin-to-skin contact with your preemie as it is also seen as beneficial for both the mother and the baby. If, however, you feel that your preemie is not getting expert care and attention, you can reach out to Dr. Sanjay Wazir at the Motherhood Hospitals for expert guidance and support.

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