Oral Stimulation

Oral stim is positive touch to the mouth and face. The purpose of oral stim is to improve bottle and breastfeeding outcomes for your premature infant.

How do I provide oral stim?

  • Kangaroo care

  • Hand containment during feeding times

  • Offering the pacifier

  • Dipping the pacifier in milk or formula and offering a small taste

  • Non-nutritive breast feeding

How old does my baby need to be?

  • Kangaroo care, hand containment, and the pacifier can be offered very soon after your infant is admitted to the unit. Your nurse will be able to help you with this.

  • Your baby must be at least 28 weeks to get tastes of milk with the pacifier or try non-nutritive breast feeding. Please see a lactation consultant before beginning non-nutritive breastfeeding.

Helpful Hints

  • There are three different sizes of pacifiers. Please talk to your nurse to find the one that is best for your baby.

  • Infants 26 to 29 weeks may be able to briefly suckle on the pacifier. Infants 30 to 33 weeks may suck for longer periods of time.

  • Give the pacifier gently. If your baby becomes fussy or stressed, try again at a later time.

  • Doing oral stim at feeding times will do your baby the most good.

  • If your baby is not receiving feeds, it is important to keep giving these chances for oral stim. It helps with oral development!


Your baby’s nurse or doctor will be able to help. You can also ask for an occupational therapist to give you more information about how early oral stim can help your baby feed.