Establishing Breastfeeding with the Late Preterm Infant in the NICU

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To describe challenges that late preterm infants (LPIs) face with breastfeeding and to provide an overview of current policy statements and practice guidelines that support breastfeeding for LPIs. In addition, we describe current breastfeeding research related to the LPI and combine this research with policies and practice guidelines to provide evidence-based recommendations to guide practice and future research in the NICU.

Data Sources:

Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and PubMed databases.

Study Selection:

Policies, guidelines, and research relevant to breastfeeding the LPI were selected if they were published between January 1, 2009 and March 1, 2014. All documents were published in English and related to breastfeeding management or breastfeeding outcomes for the LPI.

Data Extraction:

Information from articles, policies, and guidelines were chosen for their relevance to breastfeeding the LPI.

Data Synthesis:

Policy statements and practice guidelines were reviewed to provide an understanding of breastfeeding recommendations for the LPI. Additionally, recent research studies were reviewed and combined with the policy statements and practice guidelines to provide practice recommendations for NICU providers.


LPIs require a unique set of interventions for breastfeeding success; though they might be perceived as small, full-term infants, these infants often have greater challenges with breastfeeding than their term counterparts. Future research should be directed at identifying and testing specific strategies that will best support this at-risk population. Findings from this article are applicable for the LPI in the NICU as well as other care areas such as special care and transitional nurseries.

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