Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Ballentine, Hope

Committee Member/Reader

Osborne, Cara


Current policy in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) is to prescribe a volume of formula or milk to ingest a certain number of times per day to infants admitted to the NICU. The method of infant-driven feeding (IDF) is believed to be a superior alternative that allows the infants to determine the timing and volume consumed and leads to better patient outcomes. To be considered in this review, the studies were required to be primary sources that were peer- reviewed, conducted in the last five years, and had to include at least one of three outcomes: weight gain, time to full oral feedings, or hospital length of stay. The purpose of this literature review was to confirm that there are measurable benefits of the infant-driven feeding method when utilized in the NICU setting, and to validate the efficacy of this method with infants of varying levels of health and prematurity, all admitted to the NICU. The results of the review supported the hypothesis that the implementation of an IDF model would lead to decreased hospital length of stay, and earlier attainment of full oral feedings. IDF leads to shorter hospitalization, fewer adverse effects, does not compromise weight gain, and does not actually increase staff workload. It also allows parents to feel more involved with their infant’s care and increases their confidence and ability to recognize and respond to readiness and disengagement cues exhibited by their infant during their hospital stay, and when they are able to return home.


NICU, Feeding, Infant-Driven, Preterm, Neonate