The effect of music-reinforced nonnutritive sucking on feeding rate of premature infants

J Pediatr Nurs. 2003 Jun;18(3):169-73. doi: 10.1053/jpdn.2003.34.


Premature infants are fed by gavage tube before 34 weeks adjusted gestational age and when nipple feeding results in detrimental changes in respiration and heart rate. Nipple feeding skill must be developed and correlates with length of hospitalization and neurobehavioral development. This study provided music reinforcement for nonnutritive sucking and assessed nipple feeding rates pre- and posttreatment for 32 infants referred as poor feeders. A pacifier fitted with a pressure transducer activated 10 seconds of recorded music in a one-trial, 15-minute intervention given to experimental infants (n = 16) 30 to 60 minutes before the late afternoon bottle feeding. Feeding rates were collected for bottle feedings pre- and postintervention and for a similar interval for a no-contact control group (n = 16). Results showed that the intervention significantly increased feeding rates. Music functioned as reinforcement and the sucking behavior transferred from a nonnutritive to a nutritive event.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / psychology*
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Pacifiers
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome