PREMATURE BABIES: AN EARLY BEGINNING
What do our parents & caregivers need to know to help us grow?
WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT PARENTING YOUR PREMATURE BABY?
Here are some great tips to help your baby grow and develop in the first months at home.
- Be sure I am fully awake before you feed me and feed me in a quiet place where I won't be distracted.
- Feed me slowly and let me take my time.
- Be sure to hold me, and never prop my bottle.
- After I finish eating, hold me still and upright on your shoulder for a few minutes. This helps me avoid spitting-up.
KEEPING ME HEALTHY
- I have a higher risk of getting infections, so be careful where you take me and who comes to visit us, especially during flu season.
- Everyone who touches me needs to wash their hands! Put a sign up to remind them. Keep hand sanitizer in the house, the car, and my diaper bag.
- Don't let anyone smoke around me.
- Be sure to bring me to my regularly scheduled doctor visits, and keep me up-to-date on my immunizations.
- If I have any symptoms of illness call the nurse-line or bring me into my doctor. Symptoms can be blueness around my lips or nose, vomiting, trouble breathing, a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, or maybe I just don't seem 'right' to you.
- Don't forget to cover coughs and/or sneezes.
- Be sure to keep a list of any questions that you have about me for my doctor, so you are sure to ask them at my appointments.
- Like babies born full-time, I will learn many new skills over time and on my own schedule.
- Adjust for my age, taking into account I came early! If I am now 6 months old but born 2 months early - expect me to be more like a four month old.
- Some of these early skills will be smiling and paying attention for longer periods of time. I will begin to swipe at toys, then learn to hold and play with them.
- Keep track of what you see me do and anything you are concerned I can't do.
- Share any concerns with my doctor and also contact Help Me Grow for a free evaluation of my development. Please see below for more information on Help Me Grow.
- I love to look at your face and hear your voice.
- Sometimes if you look at me and talk to me at the same time, it might be too much!
- You can tell how I am feeling by reading my facial cues. Watch me closely and try to learn my different stress cues, signs of stability, and coping skills.
- If I am getting stressed I may frown, turn away, or my face will get either red or pale. If I am doing any of those things, I need a break.
- At other times, I will be bright eyed and looking for someone to talk to me and play with me.
- Sleep is especially important for me to grow!
- Be sure my sleeping area is quiet and dark even during daytime naps, this helps me get into a deep sleep.
- Be sure my mattress is tight-fitting in my crib or bassinet.
- My crib should not have toys, bumper pads or blankets.
- If it is cool, use a sleeper to keep me warm, not a blanket.
- Just like every other baby, I need to sleep on my back; but when I am awake let me play on my tummy so I get stronger!
CARING FOR YOURSELF
- In order to be able to take good care of me, you need to take care of yourself too.
- Raising me is not always an easy task. You might feel sad, overwhelmed, guilty over my early birth, depressed, or even angry. These feelings are normal, but there are people who can help you, too! Let your doctor know if you have these symptoms.
- Did you know post-partum depression is more common when your baby is born early? Both moms and dads can be affected.
- No matter how frustrated you feel, please don't shake me. Call your friend. Get someone to help take care of me. Or put me in my crib and step away for a while.
Minnesota Parents Know hosted by the Minnesota Department of Education: www.MNParentsKnow.info MNParentsKnow.info is the state of Minnesota's parent website. The Help Me Grow sections focus on child development and information about Help Me Grow: Infant and Toddler Intervention and Help Me Grow: Preschool Special Education.
MN Children & Youth with Special Health Needs, MN Department of Health:
A statewide partner that assists families locate resources and services for children (birth to 21 years) with special health needs.
March of Dimes: www.marchofdimes.com/prematurity/
Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Check out the Share Your Story section at www.shareyourstory.org/.
Pathways Awareness: www.pathwaysawareness.org
View detailed monthly milestone information and learn valuable tips through short videos about encouraging Tummy Time.
Is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families of infants born pre-term through education, support and resources. PreemieCare mentors and provides networking for community based parent-of-preemie support groups.
Our goal is to support preemie parents by providing information on prematurity and preemie care.
ZERO TO THREE: www.zerotothree.org
A national nonprofit organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.
WHAT IS HELP ME GROW: INFANT AND TODDLER INTERVENTION?
As you watch your baby grow and develop, you will notice when your baby begins to smile, roll over, sit-up and talk. While all children grown and change at their own pace, babies born prematurely may experience delays in their development. Help Me Grow: Infant and Toddler Intervention is a program designed to respond to parent's concerns and also provides many services.
For children under three years of age, Help Me Grow provides eligible children and their families with services based on individual needs. Services are generally provided in the family's home and parents participate in order to learn ways to help their young children grow and learn. There is no charge to families for these services, regardless of income or immigration status. Help Me Grow is based on federal legislation through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Who is Eligible: Any premature baby born weighing less than 3 pounds 5 ounces is automatically eligible. Babies born over this weight may also be eligible if they show a delay in their development or have other identified developmental problems. A free eligibility assessment is available. Contact Help Me Grow: Infant and Toddler Intervention.
What Services are Available? Early Childhood Intervention services are based on the child's and family's needs and priorities. Core services available at no cost to the family include:
- Identification and referral
- Service coordination
- Preschool special education
- Related services.
Who Do I Contact? If you have a concern or want to make a referral to Help Me Grow: call 1-866-693-GROW (4769)