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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Social development

There are important developmental milestones for children. Preemies may develop differently to other children.

Important! Correct for Prematurity

Because Preemies are born too early and are not fully developed you should correct for prematurity. So, if your preemie baby was born at 28 weeks gestational age (i.e. 3 months early) you adjust their 9 month age to 6 months (i.e. 3 months later), 12 months to 9 months, 3 years to 2 years 9 months and so on.

Developmental Milestones

Age Smiles
First few months

Goal-directed behavior

Engages with others

Imitate actions

5-8 months Goal-directed behavior
3-4 years

Mental states and beliefs of others

Able to suppress inappropriate responses

Participate in pretend play

7-8 years

Begin to predict the behaviours of others

Able to understand non-literal language (e.g. sarcasm & irony)

Early Adolescence

Social decision making & judgment

Increased time spent in social interaction (almost one-third of their time)

Note:These milestones represent overall age trends. There are individual differences in the exact age at which each milestone is attained.

{Dodge, 2002 #1129;Diamond, 1996 #1128;Saxe, 2004 #1127;Woodward, 1998 #1126;Greenham, 2010 #1125}

Where to next?

For continued information about development read our article "What can I do to optimise development?"



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

Help us help you!

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Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

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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