..where little means a lot

Are You A New Mom?
Get free samples of Baby formula, Diaper
Baby Magazines, and Coupons.

By Planning Family

An Early Birth

An early birth is almost always likely to affect a preemie in most areas namely sleep patterns, feeding schedules, activity levels for at least the first year of life. There will also be delays in the later developmental milestones such as walking and talking. Delays are overcome within the first 2-3 years for most, but for some preemies they will have to face longer-lasting problems, sometimes for life.

The starting point for a child born early is different from term babies. For example for a preterm baby born 8 weeks early, at 12 months the developmental abilities will match that of a 10 month old term baby. Because your baby was born with immature nervous and muscular systems, more time will be taken to reach milestones. It is important to allow your child to develop at his own time and in his own way.

When considering the development progress of your child, correct or adjust the age for weeks or months born prematurely. This 'corrected age' should be used to evaluate your child's progress until your child is 2-3 years of age.

Key Facts

• When it comes to monitoring progress of a premature baby two dates are important, the day on which the baby was born and the day on which baby was due to be born. Catching up with term babies is not going to be an overnight thing but will take time, about 3 years before most infants born prematurely will have caught up with their counterparts.

• Preemies born earlier or had severe birth complications and had to consequently deal with extensive medical interventions are more likely to face extended delays and such delays can go unrecognized. For instance some cognitive delays will only surface when the child is exposed to a more complicated learning process in school.

• During the first 2-3 years of life developmental checks are conducted every 4-6 months, but closer monitoring will be required for preterm children with more severe problems.

• Occupational, speech and or physical therapy may be necessary upon assessment which the developmental experts may recommend. Special exercises and play activities will be arranged which will need to be followed up at home too. Early intervention will help optimize your child's growth through the proper use of muscles and learning experiences.

• Developmental tests: These tests function to help healthcare experts determine if the preterm child is developing at the same speed and order as 'normal' children. These tests are not designed to forecast how smart your child will be eventually and neither will it provide explanation on why your child develops in a certain manner. The test(s) used will be based on what your child is being evaluated for. Check and do not hesitate to ask the therapist on what is 'normal' development and how your child is affected and/or any other concerns you may have.

• After a preterm kid reaches the age of 4 and up, there won't be much difference between a child who is 4 and one who is 2 months shy of four. The behavior gap between the corrected age and the birth age will diminish and disappear along with any differences between the preemie child and his counterparts.

Although children develop at different paces, the sequence of development is the same e.g. first learning the roll, then sitting followed by crawling and then walking.

Gross and Fine Motor Development of Preemie in Brief

• While a term baby spends the last few months in a very cushioned environment (the womb), a premature infant spends weeks or months outside the womb in a very loose, uncontrolled environment. Pushing against the fluid and the uterus helps develop proper muscle tone, with this opportunity being absent in the case of a preterm baby. Despite efforts taken to create a natural fetal environment (e.g. swaddling) the womb cannot be totally duplicated. Fortunately the NICU environment can influence the development of your child's muscle strength and tone to some extent.

• A preterm baby's brain did not have sufficient time to learn the ways to process movement responses. Therefore when born the preemie's brain is less equipped to handle external stimuli. Experts believe that early or late exposure alters brain development.

• With weak shoulder muscles it becomes difficult for a preterm baby to push on the elbows and lift his head. Due to a larger head, a preterm baby doesn't like to play on his stomach much. Baby may also stiffen his legs or arms because of weak muscle tone in the neck and body areas. Daunting no doubt but a developmental specialist can teach the main caretaker the simple techniques which can help improve atypical muscle strength and tone. Regular evaluation is important.

Cognitive Development of Preemie in Brief

• A baby's early learning comes largely from his environment – through touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. In early years the brain does a remarkable job of using information acquired through repetition to reorganize brain connections and even rebuild damaged connections. Preemies with delayed learning skills, impaired visual perception or weak eye-hand coordination are in need of more repetitive play.

• Although most preemies catch up with their peers in 2-3 years time with regards to intellectual abilities, preterm babies with long term medical problems, or sensory difficulties/disabilities may continue to have thinking difficulties with varying degrees throughout their lives.

Communication Development of Preemie in Brief

• While term infants communicate with their first cry, and go on to create a myriad of vocalizations such as cooing, squealing and later babbling to first words at around 1 years old (mama, dada), preterm infants take a longer time to reach these communication milestones.

• Some common communication delays associated with prematurity include delayed sound production, delayed use of words, stuttering, problem with comprehending instructions and or questions, and voice quality issues (e.g. high pitched voice, whisper etc).

• Delays in communication can affect your child's social and academic future. Medical problems such as respiratory, feeding disorders, hearing loss, and extended hospitalization often interfere and hinder early speech and language skills.

Social Development of Preemie in Brief

• Social development involves the communication of needs, response to others and temperament control, all important aspects for future social behavior. Findings suggest many preemies are sensitive with intense personalities, tend to be strong-willed and overreact to situations. An upset preemie may have a hard time calming down; this behavior pattern lasts into early childhood.

• Sometimes sensory difficulties can contribute to a child's active behavior. A therapist familiar with sensory integration can effectively provide treatment if necessary.

• Experts feel that the hyper preterm kid can grow up to be a calm collected individual if guided correctly. Parent's reaction to their hyperactive child will influence the social development.

Remember: Early diagnosis will lead to early intervention, and this will make a huge impact in the long term development of your preterm baby.

Share this
Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
Home | About Us | Preconception | Pregnancy | Parenting |

Free Newsletters
| Contact Us | Feedback | Sitemap
All Rights Reserved. © 2022 Welcome Baby Home | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Just had a baby? Click Here