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Ad Lib Feeds

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Updated July 23, 2009

Definition: Ad lib feeds: Ad lib feeding is a term that comes from the Latin phrase ad libitum, meaning at will. Premature babies are often not strong enough to take all of their nutrition from the bottle or breast. They get tired while nipple feeding, and receive all or part of their feedings through a feeding tube as they grow.

Once premature babies are strong enough to take all of their feedings by bottle, they will be placed on an ad lib feeding schedule. This means that the baby guides his or her own feeding schedule, waking up when hungry and taking as much breast milk or formula as he wishes. Before babies are discharged from the NICU, they usually will be taking enough milk on an ad lib feeding schedule to continue gaining weight.

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