In the first few years, your premature baby may not grow at the same rate as a baby born at term. Your preemie will be smaller at this stage, but they will go through growth spurts. Just like a full-term baby, there are premature baby milestones you want to make sure your little one is reaching.
Premature baby development
The doctor will use different methods in assessing your child’s overall development: mobility, muscle strength (muscle tone) and different reflexes. Using movements, the doctor will observe how your baby responds, depending on their age, and will check if this is the kind of reflex or movement they should be making. This will help identify any change that could endanger their mobility to work with a more specific therapy to recover.
Premature baby milestones
Here are some milestones that will be important to look for in your premature baby.
- Motor skills
Your baby will start to move their hands and legs, they’ll want to hold objects in their hands, and before you know it, they’ll be able to control their head on their own.
Aside from crying, your baby will respond to sounds such as your voice or a rattle. They will also start making noises and start to laugh.
You will start to notice that your baby has a different cry for different needs. They will also start to reach for objects and fix their eyes on a person or an object.
Your baby will begin to make eye contact and give you all the smiles. They will also start to recognize their primary caregiver.
Premature baby brain development
Premature infants arrive in a state of arrested development. When we welcome them into the world, their lungs, heart, digestive system, eyes, ears—and the brain—may not have reached their full potential. Because a premature baby hasn’t fully developed, they may be at a higher risk for problems with learning, communication and social bonding. But there is a lot you can do as a parent to help improve your premature baby’s development.
To start, if you can, breastfeed your baby. There are many benefits to breastfeeding your preemie baby. It will not only help you bond, but the essential nutrients in your breastmilk are critical for brain development. Talk to your pediatrician about how you can help nurture your premature baby’s brain development if breastfeeding isn’t in the cards for you and your preemie.
As with all newborn babies, it’s important not to rush your premature baby’s development. Instead, monitor and make a note of their progress and try to help them along with lots of attention, care and, of course, love.