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Teaching Your Preemie: Optimising Development

Help & Support - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

Parenting a preemie can be tough and it's important to find ways of coping and looking after your own health. It can also make you feel more in control if you can learn some great strategies to help with your prem's learning and development.


Finding a balance and a way forward

Parenting a preemie can be challenging and is a significant life transition. It is important that you find time and ways of taking care of your own health and wellbeing. Eating well, staying fit and healthy, and getting enough rest and relaxation are vital for optimal health. Maintaining and caring for relationships, especially with your partner is also important. If you need it, don't discard the option of professional assistance. Also, find advice about optimizing development and learning strategies to help with thinking & behavior difficulties.

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Teaching Your Preemie: Optimising Development

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

Optimising Social Development While Breast Feeding

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 a unique 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. The following article provides some tips for being an effective “teacher” for your preemie.

Teaching your preemie child

The impact of parents and your preemie baby’s environment has a great influence on development. Providing a supportive, responsive, and warm environment for your preemie can provide opportunities to optimise learning.

  • Create an effective learning environment, make sure the space is uncluttered and free from distractions, position and support your child so they can reach toys and make eye contact with you
  • Encourage your child to examine, touch and play with toys before you start to give instructions
  • Encourage creativity in the way objects are played with
  • Provide descriptions of the objects and toys you give your child, such as “Look at this blue ball”
  • Confirm you have your child’s attention before you begin teaching your child, gain eye contact and ask, “Are you ready to start?”
  • Provide plenty of praise, stay relaxed, and enjoy your time together; laugh and smile with your child while teaching
  • Make encouraging statements and gently touch, stroke, hug or kiss your child while you are helping them learn
  • Give specific and clear instructions as you demonstrate a particular task. For Example, “See how the red square goes in this empty square here, “Put it in there.”
  • Give your child time to work things out themself before you jump in to help
  • Acknowledge improvements with praise and affirming statements
  • Try not to interrupt when your child is babbling
  • Alter your baby’s position if they are unsuccessful in reaching it or manipulating it
  • If a task is too difficult leave it for another time, do not force your child to complete the task or have them do it repeatedly if they have been successful
  • If your child becomes distressed, respond by stopping the activity, comfort them, or try diverting their attention to another task
  • Let your child know when you have finished “teaching” them
  • Keep the learning session relative short; no more than 5 minutes and no less than 1 minute
(Bradford, 2003; DiPietro, 2000; Saxe, Carey, & Kanwisher, 2004; Zaichkin, 2009)


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

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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



New Release - Preemie Development

All in one easy to read eguide

‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

With an easy-to-read layout this comprehensive guide is over 130 pages of important information about the NICU and your preemie.

Using Adobe’s .pdf format makes the guide usable across a wide range of platforms from ipad to PC, smartphone to macbook.

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