Premature babies are delicate and need to be handled with care. A number of developmental problems could arise during the growing up years and mothers need to be ever vigilant to keep a track on their growth and overall well being. Below are few suggestions as to how to go about it and ways to identify premature behaviour that needs to be corrected and set right.
1. The Gestational Age
It is important to identify the gestational age of the premature baby to identify the baby’s development until the time he/she was born. From the day the baby is born, the chronological age can be calculated.
To calculate the corrected age of the premature baby, the number of weeks the baby was born early can be subtracted from the chronological age. Therefore a 10 week old baby who was born 4 weeks early has a corrected age of 6 weeks. His developmental milestones must be calculated as that of a 6 week old baby and not as a 10 week old baby.
2. Offer Extra Care
Most premature babies need extra care and the amount of care that has to be extended depends on how premature he was born. Premature babies could require a warmer atmosphere to regulate the body temperature. It helps if the mother holds the infant close to her body so that the warmth of her body is transferred to the infant. Use a blanket around you and the infant for keeping the body temperature intact. Skin –to- skin contact can offer great comfort for your premature baby.
3. Check Your Baby’s Capacity
As premature babies are slower in achieving developmental milestones, mothers have to always keep watch. The most important thing to be assessed is your infant’s capacity to suckle milk. Most premature babies find it difficult to suckle as their organs are still underdeveloped and the baby could find it difficult to breathe as he/she suckles.
Assess your infant’s ability and if need be, you may get a specialised bottle designed for premature babies. These bottles are smaller and with smaller nipples that do not block the baby’s nose while feeding.
4. Introduce Exercises To Assess Development
Quite often than not, it becomes very difficult for the mother to assess the baby’s development at all levels. It is possible that your baby’s skills are not up to the mark and the mother is unaware of the same.
You may introduce simple exercises that will help you ascertain if everything is fine with your baby. Observe if your premature infant responds to your presence. You can check his senses by touching, talking and looking at him. You will surely know if the infant does not respond to any of these exercises.
Keeping a log file to track his development will help your baby’s doctor to assess his growth as well. Any behaviour or change in his mental of physical appearance that is not normal must be immediately reported to the doctor and measures taken to rectify it.