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  1. Philbin, M. Kathleen PhD, RN
  2. Ross, Erin Sundseth PhD, CCC-SLP


The Support of Oral Feeding for Fragile Infants (SOFFI) method of bottle-feeding rests on quality evidence along with implementation details drawn from clinical experience. To be clear, the SOFFI Method is not focused on the amount of food taken in but on the conduct of the feeding and the development of competent infant feeding behavior that, consequently, assures the intake of food necessary for growth. The unique contribution of the SOFFI method is the systematic organization of scientific findings into clinically valid and reliable, easily followed algorithms, and a manualized Reference Guide for the assessments, decisions, and actions of a quality feeding.


A quality feeding is recognized by a stable, self-regulated infant and a caregiver who sensitively (responsively) adjusts to the infant's physiology and behavior to realize an individualized feeding experience in which the infant remains comfortable and competent using his nascent abilities to ingest a comfortable amount of milk/formula. The SOFFI Reference Guide and Algorithms begin with prefeeding adjustments of the environment and follow step by step through a feeding with observations of specific infant behavior, decisions based on that behavior, and specific actions to safeguard emerging abilities and the quality of the experience. An important aspect the SOFFI Reference Guide and Algorithms is the clarity about pausing and stopping the feeding on the basis of the infant's physiology and behavior rather than on the basis of the amount ingested. The specificity of each observation, decision, and action enables nurses at all levels of experience to provide quality, highly individualized, holistic feedings. Throughout the course of feeding in the NICU, the nurse conveys to parents the integrated details (observations, decisions, and actions) particular to their infant, thus passing on the means for parents to become competent in quality feeding, to enjoy feeding time into the future, and to gain in confidence as they watch their infants grow.