How To Improve & Overcome Premature Infant Development Delays

Premature Infant Development

Premature infant development often holds a sense of mystery.

The definition of a premature or preterm baby is one born at less than 37 weeks after conception. In earlier times, even until quite recently, a baby born more than a few weeks early had little chance of survival. But that situation has changed for the better thanks to both a better understanding of physiology and new methods of treating premature babies and preparing for the possibility of an early birth.

Premature is a very good term as some parts of the body are not mature enough to function as they should. This may cause various problems with feeding, breathing, or maintaining their body temperatures. Each baby may be affected differently depending on how early he was born and the reason for that early delivery.

The earlier he is born, the higher the risk he has of having health problems, some of which may have their effects in later life.

How To Correctly Measure Premature Infant Development

As well as counting the baby's age from the day he was born (chronological age) there is something called corrected age.  Corrected age is used to check your baby's normal growth and development for the first year or so of his life. This is measured by taking your baby's chronological age minus the period of time he was born early.

So, if your 10 week old baby was born 5 weeks early, his corrected age is five weeks (10 weeks minus 5 weeks).

In some cases a premature baby will develop somewhat slower than a child born at full term. In most cases developmental problems go away as your baby catches up or outgrows them. Also, your baby's ability to respond to things he sees and hears may be slower than full term babies.

Now, let's say that a normal baby starts crawling at around 10 months. If your baby was born 5 weeks prematurely, then he should realistically only be crawling at around 15 weeks chronological age (real age; calendar weeks since birth) to be at the same development level.

But the real question now is… "how do I help my premature baby catch up any development delays?"

Encouraging Premature Infant Development

Well, premature infant development follows exactly the same route and milestones as full time babies. So, the techniques used to encourage development for "normal" babies, also work to speed up premature infant development.

The difference with premature babies is that you need to do a lot more. Simply stated, constantly focus on encouraging and stimulating your baby's development. Spend time to stimulate development.

Here is a brief outline of things you can do to boost your baby's development. For more details, please read The P-A-S-T Rule For Boosting Infant Development.

  • P - Playing simple and active games. Also encourage playing with educational toys for added stimulation

  • A - Awareness… make your child aware of his surroundings. Show, point out, describe and tell him about his surroundings. Make him aware of what happens and what is present in his immediate surroundings

  • S - Singing songs & rhymes. Babies learn by moving as well as by listening. So, use songs and rhymes to play games with him that encourage movement

  • T - Talking to your child. Teaching a child new words in context, as when you point to various foods or the parts of her body and name them, is a vital part of learning a language. And learning a new language is a vital development achievement. Keep in mind that you need to talk to your baby long before you can expect to have a 'proper' conversation with him. So, persist talking to your child.

Constantly try to reduce this development gap (5 weeks in our example) until you've reduced it to zero. This you can easily do by regularly using the stimulation techniques.

The bottom line is... if you correctly use corrected age, it gives you a more realistic expectation of premature infant development and performance.

Best is to stop worrying about how far your child's performance may apparently be lacking. Rather focus your attention fully on stimulating and encouraging Baby's development.

premature infant development >> infant development