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Development of premature babies

development of premature babies

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Having a premature baby is a scary and stressful time. Whether your baby arrived unexpectedly or whether you had knew it was a possibility, nothing can really prepare you for the sight of your tiny baby in an incubator.

A neonatal unit will be unfamiliar and you are likely to have plenty of questions about your baby’s care and what the future may hold. This article outlines some of the things that may affect your baby but your doctors and nurses will be able to answer all your questions about their individual needs. Every baby is different and complications will vary depending on how prematurely your baby was born.The development of premature babies varies and all will be done to ensure your baby gets the best care possible.

Support throughout your baby’s hospital stay

While your baby is in hospital, things like breastfeeding and even holding them may be difficult. If mum can’t breastfeed, expressing is highly recommended because it can still be used for tube feeding. The benefits of breast milk are even more significant to your premature baby due to their undeveloped immune system. The contact you have with your baby, however limited, is incredibly important for you both to bond and can also provide a great deal of comfort.

Support for your baby during their hospital stay comes not only from the medical staff but of course from you too. Your baby may look very fragile and you may not be able to hold them but they still know your voice and your smell is unique (in a good way!). When my best friends little boy was born prematurely I found them a little toy that was a simple comforter. The idea is that you sleep with the comforter in your own bed for a night or two then when you put it in the incubator with your baby, it smells just like mum and dad! I can’t take credit for the concept but just like we would benefit from familiar things if we had a hospital stay so will your baby – in this case, the familiar things are mum and dad.

Not all hospitals are equipped to look after very premature babies and your little one may be transferred to their nearest special unit. If this isn’t local to you, there may be an option for you to stay in a room close to the ward (within the hospital) or in some instances there are charity run houses adjacent to the hospital where you can stay (space permitting). Once your baby is well enough, they will normally be transferred back to your local hospital. In the meantime though, if accommodation nearby isn’t an option then you may have to prepare yourselves for travelling.

Developmental milestones

Your baby is likely to reach these milestones later than a full term baby born at the same time because technically speaking, your baby is younger. He or she will be regularly assessed and this will be according to their corrected age – this is the age they are from their actual due date.

Taking your little one home after a long stay in hospital is wonderful but it can be also be scary when you don’t have the reassurance of the medical staff around you. These regular assessments will address any concerns you have and reassure you that your baby is doing well.

Some children may need help from physiotherapy or an occupational therapist to help develop their strength and muscle tone. This can often be in the form of some simple exercises or activities for you to do with them.

development of prem babies

Other medical conditions


Babies born very prematurely are more likely to have problems with their vision but often treatment is successful. As your baby develops in the womb, the placenta regulates the oxygen to your baby’s organs as they develop – including the retinas in their eyes. Scientists believe that it’s the early exposure to oxygen that causes the retinas to grow too quickly, causing scar tissue. Your baby will be checked regularly for developments in vision so that any problems can be addressed quickly. Many cases get better without treatment and in some cases it can result in minor issues such as long sightedness.  If there are signs that your baby’s sight is affected more severely than this, they may need an operation.


Problems with hearing may occur due to the tiny parts in the ears still developing at the time of your baby’s early arrival. This may make them especially sensitive to noise and vulnerable to damage. As with sight, your baby will be assessed regularly to identify hearing problems. In some cases, it can be difficult to gauge the extent of the problem until your little one is a little older.


The more premature your baby, the more likelihood of intraventricular haemorrhage. This is a bleed on the brain. In babies born after 32 weeks, this is rare.

Some haemorrhages are very small and are not thought to lead to long term problems however larger bleeds can cause long term damage which is associated with cerebral palsy and seizures. If your baby has a large bleed to the brain then your doctor will talk to you about how this could affect their development but often, you will only know for definite what the long term affects are as your baby grows.If this happens, it can be a lot of information to take in. There will be support on offer through the hospital and talking to someone who knows what you are going through can help you come to terms with this possibility and help you understand what this might mean for your baby.

A premature birth can have knock on effects on your little one’s development but whilst degrees of long term support may vary, your child can still go on to live a happy, contented life. With your love and support they can achieve amazing things and overcome unimaginable obstacles.





About Denise Morgan

About Denise Morgan

Denise has five years' experience writing for various web-based companies. During this time she has also contributed to magazine articles and brochures. In addition to writing, Denise is a gigging singer/songwriter and is proud to have featured on the first series of BBC One's The Voice UK, having been selected by the great Sir Tom Jones. Denise is mother to the most talented and ridiculously intelligent two year old that has ever been and ever will be (until she creates another one that is). This kind of hyperbole is restricted only to her progeny and is not a reflection of her usual writing styles... Denise and her son live in Manchester along with their five cats - yes that's right, five.

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