Pacifier stiffness alters the dynamics of the suck central pattern generator

Emily Zimmerman, Steven M. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Variation in pacifier stiffness on non-nutritive suck (NNS) dynamics was examined among infants born prematurely with a history of respiratory distress syndrome. Three types of silicone pacifiers used in the NICU were tested for stiffness, revealing the Super Soothie® nipple is 7 times stiffer than the Wee Soothie®or Soothie® pacifiers. Suck dynamics among 20 preterm infants were subsequently sampled using the Soothie® and Super Soothie® pacifiers during follow-up at approximately 3-months of age. ANOVA revealed significant differences in NNS cycles/min, NNS amplitude, NNS cycles/burst, and NNS cycle periods as a function of pacifier stiffness. Infants modify the spatiotemporal output of their suck central pattern generator when presented with pacifiers with significantly different mechanical properties. Infants show a non-preference to suck due to high stiffness in the selected pacifier. Therefore, excessive pacifier stiffness may decrease ororhythmic patterning and impact feeding outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neonatal Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Non-nutritive suck
  • Preterm birth
  • Respiratory distress syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics


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