More Tips on Preemie Care
Remember Tummy Time Since a preemie spends most of his time on his back in the NICU, he needs several belly sessions a day at home. This will help him strengthen his neck, abs, back, and shoulder muscles so that he can learn to push up and eventually crawl, and it will reduce the odds that he'll develop flat-head syndrome. "Putting your baby on your chest, skin to skin, while he's awake is great for tummy time as well as bonding," says Dr. Sajous.
Adjust Your Expectations Don't worry if your child doesn't sit up at the same time as your friends' babies: They had a head start. When figuring out when your preemie might hit her milestones, use her adjusted age--how old she would have been if born full-term--until turning 2. "If your child arrived two months early, she'd still be considered a newborn at 8 weeks," says Dr. Sajous. Your child's adjusted age is also important when making feeding decisions, such as when to start solids or finger foods.
Try to Relax Granted, parenting a preemie can be more demanding than caring for a full-term infant. But even though he may need more frequent weight checks and feedings, don't get so caught up in the challenges that you forget to have fun with him. You can still hold and talk to him just like any other baby.
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of Parents magazine.
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