Objective: To examine the influence of an infant's physical condition on nipple-feeding practices and the contribution of the infant's age at complete nipple feeding to dietary intake and somatic growth outcomes.
Design: A retrospective, correlational study.
Setting: Two Level III nurseries.
Participants: Records of 55 preterm infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Main outcome measures: The infant's intake of kcal/kg on Day 1 of complete nipple feeding and the weight gain per day between complete nipple feeding and discharge.
Results: Gestational age and days on mechanical ventilation, continuous positive airway pressure, or supplementary oxygen influenced age at start and at completion of nipple feeding (p < .05). The infant's weight when nipple feeding was introduced was the primary determinant of age at introduction of nipple feeding (B = .50, p < .001). The physical condition variables did not influence the transition time from introduction of nipple feeding to complete nipple feeding. Neither the physical condition variables nor the feeding practice variables contributed to caloric intake. Weight gain between the time of complete nipple feeding and hospital discharge was less for infants who were on supplementary oxygen longer and who were older when completely nipple fed (p < .01).