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Aiding the Growth of a Premature Child

                                   

Life is organized into several steps of development.  Although gradual, experience has taught us human beings that life is more disorganized than not.  Even a doctors’ educated guess as to the due date of a baby can be at fault when baby comes sooner than expected.  Premature babies can grow up to be just a healthy as full-term babies but need a little more help playing catch up.

Basic Philosophy 

Erik Erikson, a popular child development researcher has done a plethora of research about developmental stages. He has two basic philosophies, one of which is:

The world gets bigger as we go along

To help babies continuously and happily grow in this big world, it’s in good nature for parents to have a basic understanding of what sets premature babies apart from their punctual peers.

Foundations

Some of the more foundational aspects include motor development, behavioral cues, and touch, including infant massage.

                      

According to babyfirst.com, a premature baby often has less muscle bulk and is usually “hypotonic”. This means her muscles are loose and floppy. It will often be hard for her to stay in a flexed position. Instead, she may end up with a more “frog-like” posture. Her trunk may look flat when she’s lying down, rather than rounded. With that in mind, careful attention should be paid to the development of the nervous system and such motor skills as smiling, sitting, walking, and positioning the muscles should be applauded.

The development of motor skills should not be a standalone achievement. Look for and aid speech and behavioral development consequently by creating an enriching environment.  Comfortable “toys” like a bounce chair or a high chair will aid with muscle development and brain development. 

      

Bounce chairs with amenities like hanging toys, mirrors, and even embedded speakers for music will grow your baby’s curiosity to aid them in our ever expanding world.

                

Also according to babyfirst.com, there are certain signs that your baby is ready to interact or may need a break. The following are cues as listed by babyfirst.com:

These may be signs your baby is ready to interact:

- Quiet, alert state. Eyes are opened and focused.
- Relaxed; not too stiff or limp.
- Arms and legs are tucked in. Hands are at mouth.
- Some smiling (by about six weeks corrected age), and eventually cooing.

These signs say “time out”; your baby needs a break:

- Looking away, glassy-eyed, stressed look
- Limp body
- Stiffening (pushing body out straight)
- Yawning, falling asleep
- Hiccups, spitting up


Lastly, as mentioned in a post about infant massage, the simple power of touch will not only be a great way to bond with your baby but will be a soothing experience where they are able to look around and make contact with other people and things around them.

The aforementioned is just a tip of the iceberg as to how your preemie may need extra information.  Be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician for appropriate developmental needs and use informative tools for education. The following links provide some great information about preemies:

Kidshealth.org

Aafp.org

Babyfirst.com

Aboutourkids.org

Babycenter.org

Webmd.com