Preemie Milestones - a quick look

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Preemie Milestones are important to know and understand. Keeping an eye on your preemies development and checking when they reach certain milestones can help you determine when a little help might be necessary.


Preemie milestones can keep you both on track

When understanding preemie milestones is important to learn a little bit of information on the typical development of various skills, as well as some information about signs that may indicate problems with development. If your preemie is not meeting the milestones mentioned you may want to talk to your paediatrician about your preemie's development.

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Emotional Development

Keeping an eye on your preterm baby's development can help you determine when a little help might be necessary

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

Emotional Development

Have a look at the following information for typical development of emotions. You should talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your preterm baby's development.

Age Emotional Expressiveness Emotional Understanding
Birth - 6 months Signs of almost all basic emotions are present (i.e. anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise)
  • Social smile appears
  • Laughter appears
  • Expressions of happiness are greater when interacting with family members
  • Emotional expressions start becoming well organized and related to social events
Infant can match the feeling of those caring for them in face-to-face communication (i.e. mimic smile)
7 - 12 months Expressions of anger and fear increase, for example anxiety toward a stranger
Caregiver is used as a secure base
The ability to regulate own emotions improves as crawling and walking allow approach and retreat from stimulation
Begin to understand the meaning of others’ emotional signs
Social referencing develops
1 - 2 years Feelings of self-consciousness appear but depends on the presence of others
Social smile appears
Begin understanding that others’ emotional reactions may differ from their own
Vocabulary used for talking about feelings increases
Empathy appears
3 - 6 years Strategies for regulating emotion develop, particularly as language improves
Begin to conform to social rules by displaying a positive emotion even if it is not felt
Improvement in understanding of causes, consequences, and behavioral signs of emotion
Empathy becomes more reflective as language develops
7 - 11 years Feelings of self-consciousness become integrated with inner standards for right action
The variety of strategies used for emotional self-regulation increase, become more internal, and are adjusted depending on the situation
Conformity to, and conscious awareness of, displays of emotion improve
Ability to think about multiple sources of information when explaining others’ emotions
Begin developing an awareness that people can have mixed feelings and their expressions may not reflect their true feelings
Empathy increases as emotional understanding improves
These milestones represent overall age trends. There are individual differences in the exact age at which each milestone is attained(Berk, 2008).



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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