Was baby born earlier than expected? If so, you may have many questions about what this means for baby’s health and development.

There are so many ways to support baby if they are premature! Here are some of the most important things to know, and ways to can support them in these early years.

What does it mean if baby is premature? Baby is considered premature when they are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Prematurity may also be called preterm, and a premature baby may be called a preemie. There are different degrees of prematurity.

  • Extremely preterm: Born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy
  • Very preterm: Born at or before 26-31 weeks of pregnancy
  • Moderately preterm: Born between 32-34 weeks of pregnancy
  • Late preterm: 34-36 weeks of pregnancy completed

Is prematurity rare? It’s estimated that about 10% of babies in the US are born premature. Babies who are born in multiples (such as twins or triplets) are more likely to be born premature, but there are many different reasons why baby may be born early.

How does prematurity affect baby? Prematurity impacts every baby differently. Some babies will experience few or no developmental delays. Prematurity typically impacts baby’s size when they are born. They will be undersized in both weight and height when born, but they will grow as they get older. They may have a head that is larger than expected given their body size, but once again this will adjust with age. Prematurity may also impact baby’s health, particularly in the development of brain, lungs, heart, eyes and organs. This is why baby may spend time in the NICU if they are born premature, so healthcare providers can provide the best care. There is so much that can be done to help baby if they are born premature!

Sometimes parents will feel guilty if baby is born premature. Moms and dads may feel like they did something wrong, or that they have not protected their baby. This is a natural feeling, but it’s important to remember that there are so many reasons why baby may be born early, and it is no one’s fault if they are premature. There is so much that can be done to support baby’s health and development once they are born!

How can we support baby’s development? If baby is born premature, it’s important to do the following:

  • Adjust their milestones. Until baby is 2 years old, their milestones will need to be adjusted to make sure they stay on track. Learn how to adjust baby’s milestones.
  • Consider early intervention if baby is falling behind. When delays are addressed early, they can prevent other issues and help baby stay on track. Learn more about early intervention.
  • Make sure you know when they should have well-baby check-ups. Well-baby check-ups are regular appointments with a doctor to check on baby’s development. Learn more about what to expect and how to prepare and don’t be afraid to schedule an extra appointment if there are more concerns you want to discuss.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare providers and specialists if you have questions about how to care for baby or help their development.
  • Play games and activities. Explore the baby games that are best for baby’s age!

Want to learn more about baby’s development and track their milestones?

Download the FREE Baby Milestones App!

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