Preemie Development - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

Keeping an eye on your preemies development can help you determine when a little help might be necessary.


Preemies aren't just small...

Sometimes preterm children can develop at different rates to a child born full term. In this way it is important to know the key developmental milestones and timeline so that you are able to give your preemie any help if required.

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Optimising social development

Making the most of every opportunity to improve the outcomes of premature infants

Optimising Social Development While Breast Feeding

The impact of parents and your preemie baby’s environment has a great influence on development. Providing a supportive, responsive, and warm environment whilst breastfeeding your preemie can provide opportunities to help them develop socialisation and learning.

Keep in mind too, that you know your baby best and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, so you are in an ideal position to contribute to your preemie baby’s development. There is plenty of evidence that suggests that parents who provide a stimulating environment for their children do better than those from sensory deprived environments.

The following list provides some tips for optimising social development and learning while breastfeeding:

  • Make sure your premmie feels safe and comfortable; keep them warm and ensure their head is supported and higher than their hips and that they can move their arms
  • Ensure you are both physically connected during the feed by making sure your preemie’s body is touching yours
  • Make eye contact as you start and tell them you're about to feed them
  • Ensure your face is around 20 centimetres from your preemies, aside from when kissing and burping, of course
  • Demonstrate more focus on your preemie while feeding than other people or things round you
  • Smile and gently caress your premmie while feeding
  • Talk about the feed, such as, “Are you hungry?” “Do want to eat now?” “Is that nice?” “Have you had enough for now?”
  • Chatting about general topics is also great for socialisation and language, so make general statements like “Daddy’s outside gardening”, “It’s raining today”, “We will go for a walk to the park later” (Don’t use “baby talk”)
  • Respond with smiles and affection when your baby smiles or babbles
  • Stop feeding if your preemie shows distress and comfort them with a calm, gentle voice and touch, change position if necessary
  • Try not to interrupt your prem’s sucking
  • Stop the feed when your preemie falls off to sleep, pushes away, or turns their head and your attempts to continue are unsuccessful (i.e. repositioning, burping, waiting)
(Barnard, 1994; Zaichkin, 2009)



AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

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