Preemie Development:
How your premature baby develops

Is preemie development similar to the development of a full term baby?

The answer could be yes and no at the same time.

There are many instances in which a full term newborn will have an edge over an eager-to-come-out preterm baby. Having said that, when it comes to certain cognitive skills, there is an equal chance for a premature baby to learn and develop.

Is Preemie Care any different?

Preemie Development

After you give birth to your premature baby and receive the news that a good prognosis is appropriate, you can settle down and begin to take care for your new bundle of joy. Caring for a premature baby can be somewhat different from caring for a baby that reached the full development phase. Preemie development occurs from the time your baby is born and continues until you baby enters a different developmental phase of his or her life.

However, the milestones reached are the same. Please refer to the Health, Sleep and Care sections for all the help you need.

Kangaroo care is recommended.

Kangaroo care is a magical technique of skin-to-skin bonding between a newborn baby with his/ her mother (and/ or father). It is said to work wonders in case of premature babies' development. Refer to our highly informative article all about kangaroo care.

Comparing the development of preterm birth with a full term baby is wrong.

If you consider your preemie development to the development of a full term baby that was born at the same time your child was born, you may notice some milestone differences, especially if your child has some developmental challenges to cope with.  Hence, it may not be appropriate to directly compare your premature baby’s development to any other baby’s development.  However, what can be beneficial to you is to understand what premature baby development milestones you can look forward to so that you can help prepare your baby to achieve them.

Patience is the keyword here.

Sometimes, predicting exact occurrences can be somewhat impossible because children, premature or otherwise, can reach the same development phase at different times.  An average or target point could be used as a check-point.  However, if the check-point arrives and nothing seems to be happening with your child, that’s okay too.  Be patient and wait for development to occur.  If you wait for a long time or feel that something is certainly wrong, you should seek medical guidance as soon as you can.  It is better to be sure that other underlying problems are absent and it usually does not harm to inquire from your baby’s doctor. 

A preemie milestones could be different.

Your baby’s doctor may also be the person to notice that a development milestone for your premature baby is somewhat lacking or progress is not being made to approach this important milestone.  At such a time, additional tests may also be run to see if another issue is present.  It is important to use an adjusted milestone chart to address developmental and growth issues for your premature baby.  

For example: Where full term babies may be eager to begin sitting up and crawling at about six months of age, your premature baby may not be quite ready to do this until he or she is about eight months old.

Breastfeeding a preterm baby

Full term babies may be ready to breastfeed right at birth.  If your baby is premature, you may be looking at an additional two months from the time your baby is born before he or she is ready to latch on and breastfeed by himself or herself.  Read our highly informative article on how to breastfeed your preemie.

Special formula milk for preemies:

There are special infant formula milk available in the market for premature babies. Read our highly informative article on the selection of the right premature infant formula here.

Cases where preemie develops at the same pace as a full term baby:

In some cases, your premature baby can develop just as fast as any other baby especially in cognitive abilities.  In such situations, if your baby who was born prematurely is placed in an environment where learning can occur freely, your baby may still be able to pick up information just as well as any other baby would.  Hence, any setbacks your baby may face would be based on the characteristics of the individual limitations that may be associated with your baby. 

Nevertheless, you may notice more noticeable discrepancies between babies when there is a display of motor skills in contrast to skills and premature development phases that are more cognitive in nature.  No matter the stage of development, beware of placing your child in situations where the level of advancement is much more than is currently appropriate for your child. 

Although you may be quite eager for you baby to reach certain developmental milestones, this will typically happen all in good time.  Help you baby through all these stages of preemie development and enjoy the excitement as your baby develops.

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