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Optimizing Preemie Development

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.


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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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Optimizing Preemie Development

Stimulating Development:
Get involved there is plenty you can do!

Optimizing Development: 

Even though preterm infants are at risk for long-term difficulties many babies do very well. Some preemies are slow to develop but eventually catch up to their full term peers over time. If you are concerned about your preemie’s development or an aspect of health, speak with your paediatrician or GP.

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.

Social functioning and a child’s ability to interact appropriately with peers, is an important goal of childhood. Social skills play an important role in development and since adults provide the social and emotional environment of infants you can help progress your preemie’s social and emotional development in a number of important ways. The following article provides some tips on how you can help optimise your preemie’s development.

 

IMPORTANT! - Correct for prematurity. 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 younger), 12 months to 9 months, 3 years to 2 years 9 months and so on.

Optimizing Preemie Development the First 6 Months

Everyone wants their baby to be happy and healthy; here are some tips for you to help optimise your preemie’s development over the first 6 months of life.

You may have to wait until your baby is well enough to do some of these things; remember 0 will actually be when your preemie was supposed to be born not from their actual birth date

Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development by age

Average Age Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development
0 – 1 month
  • Spend time talking or singing to your prem
  • Spend time with your baby face-to-face and provide bright interesting objects close to their face for them to look at
  • Give your premmie bells or rattles
  • Hang interesting mobiles above their cot
  • Position your preemie baby on their stomach for playtime
2 months
  • Spend time talking or singing to your prem
  • Use interesting objects to get your prem to follow it in different directions, by moving it up and down, left and right
  • Smile at your baby and make happy sounds
  • Give your preemie toys or objects with a different feel to them e.g. teddy bear, plastic rattle, book, or large wooden block
3 months
  • Spend lots of time talking, smiling, and socialising with your premmie baby
  • Position your baby on their stomach for playtime
  • Help support them in the sitting position
  • Offer your baby toys & objects from a distance so your baby has to reach for or work to get at it
  • Offer toys or objects that your preemie baby can grasp
  • Help your baby shake the rattle or grasp objects if they don’t do it by themselves
4 months
  • Spend lots of time talking, smiling, and socialising with your premmie baby
  • Help your baby change positions during playtime, i.e. sitting, lying on back or stomach
  • Encourage your baby to roll over by offering toys on the side opposite your baby’s position
  • Help your baby bring their hands together to the centre of their body; let your baby bring their hands to their mouth
  • Attract your baby’s attention or try to gain a reaction by shaking a rattle or bell
6 months
  • Continue to spend time talking, singing, smiling and laughing with your baby
  • Position your baby on their back and place toys just out of reach to one side to encourage rolling over onto their stomachvEncourage exploration of their surroundings
  • Encourage new and different types of play
  • Encourage banging and activities that create noise
(DiPietro, 2000; McLoyd, 1998; Parker, Greer, & Zuckerman, 1988)

Optimizing Preemie Development: 6 to 12 months

Everyone wants their baby to be happy and healthy; here are some tips for you to help optimise your preemie’s development over the first 12 months of life.

Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development

Average Age Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development
6 months
  • Continue to spend time talking, singing, smiling and laughing with your baby
  • Position your baby on their back and place toys just out of reach to one side to encourage rolling over onto their stomach
  • Encourage exploration of their surroundings
  • Encourage new and different types of play 
  • Encourage banging and activities that create noise
9 months
  • Play and create different social games with your baby
  • Name objects to encourage vocabulary development
  • Place your infant on the floor with several toys to play with
12 months (1 year)
  • Continue naming objects and actions
  • Encourage use of a cup with a lid or a partly filled standard cup
  • Offer lots of praise for efforts to imitate
  • Read to your child often and have them turn the page as you go (children’s books with thick pages can be great for this)
  • Give simple directions, such as “Give mummy the rattle” 
  • Offer lots of praise when they succeed
(DiPietro, 2000; McLoyd, 1998; Parker, et al., 1988)

Optimising Preemie Development 1 to 2 Years

Everyone wants their baby to be happy and healthy; here are some tips for you to help optimise your preemie’s development over the first 2 years of life.

Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development by age

Average Age Ways to Optimize Your Preemie Baby’s Development
12 months (1 year)
  • Continue naming objects and actions
  • Encourage use of a cup with a lid or a partly filled standard cup
  • Offer lots of praise for efforts to imitate
  • Read to your child often and have them turn the page as you go (children’s books with thick pages can be great for this)
  • Give simple directions, such as “Give mummy the rattle”
  • Offer lots of praise when they succeed
15 months
  • Have lots of conversations with your toddler
  • Provide finger food for your child so they can practice reaching & grasping
  • Allow them to try to feed and dress themself with your help
  • Encourage different activities under supervision, such as colouring with crayons, building blocks, and finger-painting
18 months
  • Encourage conversation
  • Encourage play with different sized balls, teach them how to throw and kick
  • Provide building blocks and encourage your child to construct things
  • Read books together
  • Encourage and praise attempts to feed, dress, and wash themselves
24 months (2 years)
  • Encourage your child to use words and sentences instead of pointing
  • Read together and encourage your child to point at and name pictures in the book i.e. animals, bat, ball, house, clothing, and so on
  • Continue to praise attempts at dressing, washing, feeding, and housework
  • Encourage the use of a spoon and fork
  • Provide simple puzzles to encourage size and shape differentiation
  • Play games that encourage large muscle development and interactive skills, such as chasey, hide and seek, ball games
  • Encourage cooperation with other children
  • Organise fun & educational trips to provide more learning experiences, such as to the zoo, aquarium, beach, or shopping centre
(DiPietro, 2000; McLoyd, 1998; Parker, et al., 1988)

Working together

Ideas that can be utilized for the entire family have a greater chance of success. Behavioural strategies are also more effective when the whole family works together and consistently to achieve behavioural change and reach goals.

 

 



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

Help us help you!

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Preemiehelp.com is here to provide preemie information, community and solutions to the people that need it most... you!
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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New Release - Preemie Development

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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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Packed with extra features like progress charts, NICU checklists and plenty of others. ‘The preemie guide’ is a must for any new parents.


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