Despite abundant research comparing postdischarge hospital diets for preterm infants, the ideal clinical approach has not been determined. Dilemmas persist because randomized controlled trials of preterm versus term infant formula have yielded equivocal results and because the predominant postdischarge diet for preterm infants has shifted from formula-based to a combination that includes maternal milk and increasingly includes a plan for breastfeeding. As the investigation of the influence of the post–hospital discharge diet on preterm infant outcomes evolves, factors to consider include the infant’s oral feeding ability and the maternal lactation goal. The maturation of the preterm infant’s oral feeding skills may at least partially explain why increased nutrient density appears to most benefit growth outcomes when given during the first 3 to 4 months after hospital discharge. At some point in maturation, the preterm infant may develop the ability to vary intake as needed to obtain sufficient nutrition no matter the density of the diet. In addition, attention to the maternal lactation goal is critical as intake of maternal milk likely influences neurodevelopmental outcomes as much or even to a greater extent than growth trajectory.

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