Preemie Development - a quick look

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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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Speech development

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

It’s amazing how quickly babies grow and develop! The tables below highlight some important milestones. Although these tables give an average age at which milestones are achieved it is important to realise that even babies born at term achieve these milestones at varying ages. For preemies, you should always correct for their prematurity. 

Speech Development

Have a look at the following information for typical development of these skills. You should talk to your paediatrician if you have any concerns about your preemie's development.

speech development milestones and preterm birth

Developmental Milestone

Age Development
By 3 months
  • Sucks and swallows well during feeding
  • Quiets or smiles in response to sound or voice
  • Coos, laughs, squeals, or vocalises in ways other than crying
  • Turns head toward direction of sound
By 6 months
  • Begins to use consonant sounds in babbling, e.g. “dada”
  • Uses babbling to get attention
  • Begins to eat cereals and pureed foods
By 9 months
  • Increases variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling
  • Looks at familiar objects and people when named
  • Begins to eat junior and mashed table foods
By 12 months
  • Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada”
  • Follows simple instructions, e.g. “give mummy the cup”
  • Produces long strings of gibberish in social communication
  • Drinks from an open cup
By 15 months
  • Can say around 5-10 words
  • Likes imitating new, less familiar words
  • Understands around 50 words
These milestones represent overall age trends. There are individual differences in the exact age at which each milestone is attained.(Berk, 2008; Zaichkin, 2009)

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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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