Feeding and Swallowing in the NICU

August 29-30, 2020

Feeding difficulties in the NICU are common and can be challenging for even experienced therapists. Premature infants and medically fragile/sick newborns are unique from typically developing healthy newborns. An appreciation of their fragile and immature subsystems, maturation of these subsystems around feeding and swallowing, as well as our ability to impact these systems, are required to be a successful clinician serving this population. This two-day seminar will provide a strong foundation in evidence-based information, theory, and critical analysis of: subsystem analysis, swallowing safety and function, appropriate and effective therapeutic interventions, family/caregiver engagement, and discharge planning.  Infant’s communication skills, positioning impact on feeding and swallowing, pre-feeding skills, therapeutic feeding trials, bottle and breast feeding, family involvement, and feeding in palliative care will also be discussed. Along with interactive lectures, videos, pictures, case studies, demonstrations, and activities will be used to further expand learning opportunities and empower participants as feeding therapists with this fragile population in the NICU and beyond.

What to Bring:

  • A baby doll with soft movable extremities OR an “NDT doll”
  • One receiving blanket
  • One baby bottle

Course Level: Introductory

Assessment Methods: Labs, Case Study Discussions, Q&A, Self-Assessment on Evaluation

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe embryologic development and maturation, and impact of prematurity on feeding and swallowing skills
  • Explain environmental, physiologic, sensory motor, and psychosocial influences in this specialized population that affect feeding and swallowing
  • Identify readiness signs to begin pre-feeding and oral feeding opportunities
  • Indicate appropriate clinical analysis for thorough evaluation of feeding and swallowing skills
  • Detail at least three feeding treatments to enhance feeding and swallowing skills
  • Determine appropriate involvement of feeding therapy in palliative care
  • State common feeding difficulties that can arise with NICU graduates following transition home
  • Detail three appropriate techniques and plan to facilitate a successful transition home
  • Establish thorough discharge recommendations and follow-up needed


Texas Children's Hospital
Feigin Center
1102 Bates, 14th Floor Conference Room D
Houston, TX 77030

Cost -  

$350.00 Individual Early Registration (30 days or more before the course)
$335.00 Group 2-4 Early Registration
$320.00 Group 5 or more Early Registration
$250.00 Student (must show current student ID)

Earned credits -  

14.5 contact hours or CCUs through TOTA and TPTA

Registration - Register online


Karin Mitchell, MA, CCC-SLP, is a worldwide respected Speech Language Pathologist specializing in the care and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing, developmental care of the medically fragile infant and child, and pediatric traumatic brain injury. Her love of teaching and helping others drives her to create and deliver fun and empowering continuing education courses across the nation and internationally. Areas covered are Developmental Care in the NICU, Cue-Based Feeding, pediatric feeding, and swallowing analysis and treatment, including the use of VitalStim, swallow studies, enhancing decision making and clinical analysis, breast feeding the medically fragile infant and child, and developmental milestones supporting feeding skill acquisition. Beginning her practice in 1995, Karin sought out learning opportunities and creative ways to teach others. She now serves as a lead therapist for the NICU and Feeding Teams at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, CA. With a clinical practice formed by a strong theory base in NDT and SI therapies, Kim is also NOMAS-trained and VitalStim-certified.  She provides ongoing education in-services and hands-on labs for appropriate developmental care, positioning, handling, and feeding skills for clinical staff, including medical residents, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists. Karin was a key player in the development of unit protocols and care plans for evidence-based developmental care in the highly specialized Small Baby Unit (ELBW) at CHOC, which includes an ongoing education series required by all medical and support personnel. She is an active committee member for multiple qualities of care committees, including Skin to Skin Care, Developmental Care, Infant Driven Feeds, Breast Feeding Coalition, Palliative Care, Neuro NICU Team, Trauma Team, and Family Centered Care. A dedicated leader, Karin devotes much of her time to the support and development of clinicians, serving as a mentor committed to building therapist’s skills in clinical analysis and therapeutic effectiveness with medically fragile patients. She is a strong advocate for her patients and their families and speaks at local associations, community centers, local universities, and school districts to support medical fragile infants and children. Financial Disclosure: Karen receives an honorarium from CIAO for the presentation of this course. She also receives royalties for the purchase of her recorded course(s). Non-Financial Disclosure:  Karin uses VitalStim in her clinical practice.



  • 07:30 - 08:00  Registration (light breakfast provided)
  • 08:00 - 08:30  Objectives & Clinical Expectations
  • 08:30 - 09:00  Embryology & Maturation of Feeding & Swallowing
  • 09:00 - 10:00  Brain & Sensory Development
  • 10:00 - 10:15  BREAK
  • 10:15 - 12:00  NICU Environment:  Impact on the Patient, Family & Feeding Development
  • 12:00 - 01:00  LUNCH (on your own)
  • 01:00 - 01:30  NICU Medical Terminology & Hot Topics
  • 01:30 - 03:00  Suck Patterns & Swallowing Development
  • 03:00 - 03:15  BREAK
  • 03:15 - 04:00  Feeding Readiness Assessment & Programs
  • 04:00 - 04:30  Signs of Stability vs Stress
  • 04:30 - 05:00  Questions & Answers


  • 07:00 - 07:30  Registration (light breakfast provided)
  • 07:30 - 08:30  Key Components of a Thorough Evaluation
  • 08:30 - 09:00  Analysis of Readiness to Oral Feed:  Video Interpretation
  • 09:00 - 10:00  Quality of Nippling Analysis:  Video Interpretation
  • 10:00 - 10:15  BREAK
  • 10:15 - 11:15  Set Up for Success:  Pre-Feeding Interventions
  • 11:15 - 12:00  NNS Interventions
  • 12:00 - 01:00  LUNCH (on your own)
  • 01:00 - 02:00  NS Interventions
  • 02:00 - 02:15  BREAK
  • 02:15 - 03:00  Swallowing & Feeding Interventions:  Sensory Processing Disorders, Oral Aversion & Severe Swallowing
  • 03:00 - 03:30  Successful Transition Home
  • 03:30 - 04:00  Questions & Answers


Wyndham Medical Center
6800 Main
Houston, Texas 77030
Nightly rate: $115.00 (price varies based on room availability)

Ask for Texas Children’s Hospital ESP Rate

Hotel Registration link