Why it’s important

While food is a source of nourishment, mealtimes are A SOURCE OF fun, COMFORT, DISCOVERY, AND social interaction.

Mealtimes are for sharing. Whether breastfeeding or otherwise, you and your baby can cuddle, touch, engage, talk, smile. The baby is curious and constantly tries something new – from nursing to pureed foods, solid foods, how to drink from a glass, how to use big people utensils like a spoon and a fork…all in its own time.

Babies who have gone through a difficult first few months can eat the same foods as the others. The major difference is that for a baby born preterm, you use corrected age instead of chronological age to determine when to introduce new foods.

Did you know Fetal development…?

The fetus also drinks amniotic fluid.

amniotic fluid icon
image of a brain

The amniotic fluid that bathes the fetus is essential to proper development.

at 12 to 14 weeks

The fetus begins to swallow.

The fetus makes sucking movements and swallows. This is practice for later feeding.

at 15 to 18 weeks
at 27-28 weeks

Sucking may be soothing to the fetus. It is certainly soothing to babies already born. Non-nutritive sucking is also called comfort sucking.

Sucking becomes stronger and more efficacious.

at 32 weeks
at 32-34 weeks

Babies born preterm learn to coordinate sucking, swallowing to be able to feed.

Research and Development :
Perrine Peckre, Catherine Chaput, Audrey Charpentier, Occupational Therapists, CHU Sainte-Justine
Anne-Marie Léonard, Occupational Therapist, Pierre-Le Gardeur Hospital

Review/Revision :

Julie Gosselin, Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Montreal
Thuy Mai Luu, Pediatrician, CHU Sainte-Justine

English Translation and Critical Revision :
Danielle Buch, Medical Writer, Applied Clinical Research Unit, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

Last Updated: 2015

Why it’s important

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