Researchers look at new way to help premature babies eat on their own

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Researchers may have found a new way to help premature babies eat on their own.

It's very difficult for babies--especially premature babies--to learn how to coordinate the actions of sucking, swallowing, and breathing.

But a new kind of pacifier might help.

Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are giving babies a pacifier that contains a little music device that plays the sounds of the baby's mother singing.

When the babies suck with just the right rate and strength, they're rewarded by the sound of their mother's voice.

Babies who used the pacifier were able to eat without feeding tubes one week earlier than babies who didn't use the pacifier.

The sooner a premature baby can eat on its own, the sooner he or she can go home.