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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Visual Development

Keeping an eye on your preemie's 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.

Visual Development in Infancy

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

preterm infants and visual development

Age Acuity, Colour Perception, Focusing, and Exploration Depth Perception
Pattern Perception Object Perception
Birth – 1 month
  • Visual acuity is 20/600
  • Scans the visual field and tracks moving objects
  • Responds to motion depth cues
  • Prefers large & bold patterns
  • Displays size and shape constancy
2- 3 months
  • Has adult like focusing ability
  • Perceives colours across the entire spectrum
  • Responds to binocular depth cues
  • Prefers patterns with fine details
  • Scans internal pattern features
  • Begins to perceive overall pattern structure
  • Perceives human facial pattern
  • Recognises mothers’ face in a photo
  • Uses motion and spatial layout to identify objects
4 – 5 months
  • Organises colours into categories like those of adults
  • Sensitivity to binocular depth cues improve
  • Detects subjective boundaries in patterns
  • Uses motion cues to perceive objects as three-dimensional
  • Uses cues like shape, texture, colour to identify objects
6 – 8 months
  • Visual acuity improves to 20/100
  • Tracks moving objects with smooth, efficient eye movements
  • Responds to pictorial depth cues
  • Avoids the deep side of the visual cliff (experimental task)
9 – 12 months
  • Visual acuity continues to improve
  • Can make out a pattern formation without a full image
  • Perceives patterns (such as human walking movements and facial expressions of emotion) as meaningful wholes
These milestones represent overall age trends. There are individual differences in the exact age at which each milestone is attained.(Berk, 2008)


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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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