Help Your Preemie Sleep Right
Sleep apnea (when a baby stops breathing for 20 seconds or more) is a common condition in preemies. "We monitor for apnea in the NICU, and a baby can't go home till there is no apnea for a full week," says Dr. Yanowitz. Unlike most newborns, babies in the NICU are positioned on their tummy to help expand their underdeveloped lungs. This is safe in the hospital because preemies are on a breathing monitor and under the watchful eye of an attentive staff. At home, however, you'll need to lay your baby down to sleep on his back. "Preterm babies are at a higher risk for SIDS," says Dr. Yanowitz.
Another sleep ritual you'll have to get accustomed to: waking your infant for a feeding every few hours. Preterm babies don't have a lot of reserves and need to eat more often in order to catch up to their full-term peers.