Dear Family: What Your Preemie Wants You to Know

  • Bring my hands and fingers together
  • Bring my hands up to my mouth
  • Bring my feet together

In the beginning, I may need help doing these things. You can help me by letting me grasp your finger, or putting a small, light toy in my hands.

Head Positioning and Shape
I may have the tendency to turn my head to one particular side. It is important that I learn to look both right and left so I can equally use both sides of my body. In addition, turning my head in different directions will help it to have a nice round shape.

For all activities, make sure I get time looking right and looking left.

For example:

  • Periodically change the position of my crib so that I can see the action in the room from different directions.
  • Alternate the arm you hold me in when I am eating
  • When holding me on your shoulder, make sure I alternate the direction my head is turned

Experiences with Textures
Let me touch and play with a variety of textures and weights.

For example:

  • Soft things (stuffed animals, cloth diapers, etc.)
  • Hard toys (rattles, teething rings, etc.)
  • Uneven or rough surfaces (a washcloth, etc.)
  • Hanging Out with My Toys

Hang objects above me in the crib or when I'm playing on the floor. Mobiles and crib/floor gyms work well for this activity.

At first, I will just look at the objects. Then, I will begin to bat at them, reach for them, and finally grab for them.

You can also hang the toys near my feet. I will learn to kick at them. I will be especially motivated if they make noise once I touch them.

Experiences with Sounds
Let me hear a variety of sounds, such as rattles, a variety of music, and squeaky toys. Make sounds near one of my ears (do not get too close). Do my eyes move in that direction? Do I turn my head towards the sound?

Remember: Very loud noises or too many sounds at once may startle me.

  • Talk to Me, Sing to Me
    Talk and sing to me often throughout the day. At first, it may be hard for me to look at you while you are talking. Soon I will be able to listen and look at the same time.
  • Repeat After Me
    Listen to the sounds I make and repeat them. I will listen to you, and later, I will start to make the sounds back. That will be the beginning of many conversations we will have together.

Experiences with Sight

  • I like objects that are brightly colored and/or shiny. While I am little, the easiest colors for me to see are red, black, and white. You may notice that there are lots of baby toys with these color combinations.
  • Encourage me to look at your face often. I can also look at myself in a mirror. Looking and Following
  • Give me many opportunities to look at you and other objects. I can see things best that are 8-10 inches away from my face.
  • Once I have made eye contact with you or the object, slowly move from side to side. Am I following you? Am I following the toy?

Remember: I may get tired of looking and need to take a break every so often.

Common Myths About Premature Infants

Myth: I am simply a smaller version of a full-term infant.
Reality: Premature infants tend to develop in slightly different ways than full-term babies. This is because we were born before we had time to finish some important growing. For example, a full-term infant tends to be all curled up with their arms and legs bent tight towards their body. A preemie's limbs tend to be more straightened out.

Myth: I am too fragile to put on my belly.
Reality: Even though I am tiny, it is okay to put me on my tummy when I am awake and an adult is in the room. This is how I will learn to hold up my head and bear weight on my arms.

Comments

Thank you for having this. As a new mom and a new mom to a preemie who will be 3 months at the end of this month I have been wondering what types of activities to do with my son and other things mentioned here.