After the NICU: Promoting Baby’s Development at Home

after NICU

To get a better idea of what your baby should be doing in the first few years, you need to modify your baby’s age, also known as “adjusting for prematurity”. To this subtract the number of months your baby was born early from your baby’s current age.

For example, if your baby is 4 months old and was born 1 months early, your baby’s adjusted age is 3 months (4 months minus 1 month). The adjustment for prematurity is until babies are 18 to 24 months old.

 

A: Your baby is ………..months old right now.

B: Your baby arrived……………months earlier.

A-B=……………………..months.

This is your baby’s adjusted age right now.

First Months of Life: Adjusting to the World!

Premature babies are not ready to face all the activity the world hast to offer. As a result, your baby may…

  • Get tired quickly and need additional rest.
  • Confuse the day and night until a routine is established.
  • Wake up or fall asleep very quickly and often.
  • Become over stimulated by noise, light, or movement-especially if happening all at once or for too long.
  • Become fussy,withdrawn or difficult to soothe when over stimulated.
  • Need help staying calm. Babies use up energy by crying, which may slow growth.
  • Need to wait to eat solid foods until 4-6 months of adjusted age.

Ideas to Support Development of Your Premature Baby

All babies benefit from having regular play times to move, look around and interact with people and toys. You should set up a time to play with your baby each day. As your baby gets older, try to make playtime a little longer. Because you are your baby’s best teacher, here are some ways you can help you can help your baby learn about the world through play:

  • Cuddle and talk with your baby face to face when he/she awake and ready to socialize.
  • Follow your baby’s lead, taking breaks when he gets sleepy, over stimulated, or wide-eyed.
  • Limit distractions for your baby and keep the room quite during play time. Turn off TV or radio
  • Once your baby can look at you and watch your face. Show him/her toys to look at and follow with his eys, like rattles, bright colored pictures and stuffed animals.
  • Encourage tummy time! Start it with your baby on his tummy on your chest, while you lie down. When your baby can lift his head a little, place him on a firm surface like a blanket on the floor.
  • Limit opportunities for your baby to stand on your lap, in jumpers, walkers and activity centres.
  • Always consider your baby’s abilities and adjusted age when you plan activities.
  • Baby massage and swimming (Baby Spa)

Development Concerns

Some babies who were born prematurely do things that may need to be evaluated. If you see your baby doing of these behaviors discuss it with your doctor and ask about the possible need for early intervention.

  • Not waking up prior to feeding at 1 month of adjusted age.
  • Feeding that takes longer than 20 minutes at 1 months of adjusted age.
  • Formula or breast milk leaking out of the mouth with feeding at 2 months of adjusted age.
  • Inability to self calm after 4 months of adjusted age.
  • Does not like being held, arches his back, or pushes away.
  • Body or legs are stiff and difficult to bend, making it hard to put him in a sitting position.
  • Unable to localize a sound or follow a face or toy by 2 months of adjusted age.
  • Prefers his head to be turned to one side.
  • Unable to lift his head up and look around when on his tummy by 3 months of adjusted age.
  • Inability to lift his legs up in the air, or kick by 2 months of adjusted age.
  • Inability to bring his hand to his mouth by 3 months of adjusted age.
  • Your baby gags, chokes or spits out solid food at 6 months of adjusted age.
One behaviour that needs  immediate attention is breath holding which causes your baby's skin colour to become pale, blue or grey while feeding. This means your baby is having difficulty breathing and is a medical emergency.

Reference: Infant & Toddler