Each baby is special and unique; no two babies are alike even when they share the same parents – any parent with more than one child will testify to this. Each baby follows its own speed when it comes to developmental milestones such as sitting or walking. And when it comes to premature babies’ development, you should know what to expect.
Milestones for Premature babies could be different
According to March of Dimes, children who are born prematurely will likely have different milestones. While about half of all children are walking by age 12 months, premature babies will likely walk later. For the purposes of calculating when a milestone is to be reached, the estimated due date should be used as a reference point rather than the actual date of birth.
Health care providers may also use the due date rather than actual birth date when it comes to assessing the development and growth of a baby. So if you say that your child is 4 months old when he was actually born 2 months prematurely 6 months ago, this is not inaccurate. So when you look at your premature baby’s milestones, subtract the number of months that he or she was born premature from his or her total age. So if your baby was two months premature, he or she is likely to reach the milestones expected of a 6 month old baby only by the age of 8 months.
What to expect with your premature baby’s development
Studies have shown that premature babies are likely to have developmental delays and academic problems up to the age of 7, when they are compared to children who are born at full term.
Earlier it was believed that late preterm babies may have the same developmental milestones as full term babies, but it is now believed that even a smaller degree of prematurity could impact developmental outcomes.
The general understanding is that the more premature a baby is, the greater is the likelihood of developmental problems. Even babies born just 4 to 6 weeks early could have these problems.
Parents can expect indications such as excessive crying, difficulties in concentration, and even difficulties forming relationships. If these symptoms are noted, experts assert that this is not abnormal, but it does mean that the child could need some further evaluation because premature babies are more vulnerable to such problems. A lag in normal development could benefit from early evaluation and timely intervention.