Background: Despite the paramount importance of feeding preterm infants, it is not yet known which feeding method works best. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine and compare the effect of cup and finger feeding methods on weight gain and feeding tolerance of preterm infants.
Method: This study is a randomized clinical trial that was performed on 83 preterm infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of Shahid Sadoughi Hospital in Yazd. Eligible infants were randomly divided into two experimental groups of Cup feeding (28 cases) and Finger feeding (27 cases) and a control group (28 cases). The duration of the study was one week; and the cases were fed four times a day, each time 15 to 20 minutes. Infants’ weight and feeding tolerance were recorded daily. Data was analyzed using SPSS 21 software and inferential tests (Chi-square, analysis of variance with repeated measures, paired t-test).
Results: The mean weights of the infants in the three groups had not significantly changed after the intervention; and also the trend of changes in mean weight were not significantly different among the three groups (p = 0.25). The percentage of feeding tolerance was 85.7% in the experimental group with cup, 63% in the experimental group with finger, and 64.3% in the control group, which were not significantly different (p = 0.11).
Conclusion: According to the results, it seems that the three feeding methods with cup, finger and dropper have similar effects on weight and feeding tolerance of premature infants; though cup feeding resulted in slightly higher weight gain and higher feeding tolerance. However, to confirm it definitively, a study with a larger sample size and longer intervention time is required.