If your baby is born before 37 weeks, it is called a preterm or premature baby. Your baby will soon come home to you after spending a few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Premature babies are a bit smaller and more delicate, so you may wonder how you will be able to handle such a small baby. Don’t worry. In this article, we will talk about some tips that will help you take care for premature baby at home.
- How Are Premature Babies?
- Why Do Premature Babies Need Special Care?
- Tips To Care For Premature Baby At Home
- 1. Breastfeeding is essential
- 2. Make a feeding schedule for the baby
- 3. Keep a Record of the Child's Development
- 4. Keep in touch with your doctor
- 5. Take care of baby's sleep
- 6. Solid Foods
- 7. Take the child out of the house less often
- 8. Practice Kangaroo Care at Home
- 9. Get your child vaccinated
- 10. Minimize Guest Visits
- Why Do Premature Babies Need Special Care?
How Are Premature Babies?
Preterm babies require special care and monitoring depending on how premature the baby is. Also, your baby will have some different characteristics from a full-term baby, although these characteristics may not get much attention as time passes.
- Less fat can be found in your child’s body. Fat is essential for the production of heat in the body of newborn babies. This fat under the skin, called brown fat, is found in the back, shoulders, neck, armpits, and near the kidneys.
- The nervous system of the child may not have developed properly.
- Your baby’s lungs may not have fully developed. Therefore, he/she may have trouble breathing.
- Your premature baby lacks lanugo, the very fine hairs that cover your baby’s body. However, if your baby is born prematurely but is closer to the due date, he/she may have lighter hair.
- If your baby is born before the 26th week, his eyes may be closed.
- Your baby may not move much because there is less body fat. The baby who is born between 29th to 32nd week may make jerky movements frequently. However, babies born before the 29th week may not have enough movement.
- Preterm babies have very low immunity, which makes them more vulnerable to infection.
- Your premature baby may have trouble feeding and, therefore, may not be able to feed properly.
Why Do Premature Babies Need Special Care?
Premature babies are not like full-term babies and therefore require special attention and care for a premature baby. Without intensive care, their body cannot develop fully. Medical technology has advanced tremendously, and such babies may be given extra care outside their mother’s womb or for several days or months until their bodies are strong enough to support themselves without external support.
Tips To Care For Premature Baby At Home
Here are some tips for parents that can help them take care for a premature baby at home:
1. Breastfeeding is essential
Breastfeeding is an essential thing for newborn babies, but sometimes your baby may have trouble feeding on the nipple or may not be able to feed at all. You can keep the milk out of the pump and bottle feed the baby.
In some cases, your doctor may advise you to introduce formula milk to your baby; There may be different formula milk for preterm babies.
2. Make a feeding schedule for the baby
A premature baby needs to be breastfed 8-10 times a day. So, make sure you feed your baby at regular intervals.
Never allow a gap of more than 4 hours between meals in a day as it can increase the chances of dehydration, which can be dangerous for your baby.
3. Keep a Record of the Child’s Development
Preterm babies grow differently than full-term babies. However, later they become like other children. Your doctor may give you a separate growth chart to keep a record of your baby’s growth.
4. Keep in touch with your doctor
Even after you leave the hospital, you should keep in touch with your child’s doctor regularly and seek advice on how to care for your child. If need be, you can also visit your doctor.
5. Take care of baby’s sleep
Your preterm baby needs plenty of sleep and may spend most of his time sleeping only. Make sure to put him on a firm mattress with no pillows. Also, never make your baby lie on his tummy; Always make him sleep on his back.
6. Solid Foods
You may have to wait a little longer to introduce solids as preterm babies may find it difficult to swallow food. Your doctor may advise you to introduce solid foods 4 to 6 months after your baby’s actual delivery date and not according to his actual birth date.
7. Take the child out of the house less often
In addition to going to the doctor, you’ll need to avoid taking your baby out for several weeks. This is because the baby is more prone to infection, which can be harmful to him.
8. Practice Kangaroo Care at Home
You may have been taught about kangaroo care in the hospital, and it is best to practice it at home for a few weeks. Skin-to-skin contact is suitable for your baby.
9. Get your child vaccinated
Take care of your child’s vaccination schedule and get your child vaccinated as per the schedule.
10. Minimize Guest Visits
Your child’s immunity is very low. Therefore, keep guests’ visits at home to a minimum, especially those who are ill or who smoke. Make sure anyone who meets or touches your child wash their hands before doing so.
Stress Relief Methods for Premature Parents
- You can touch, care for and hold your baby in your lap as soon as the doctor recommends.
- You should keep telling your pediatrician from time to time about your child’s health and development and seek advice.
- If you hold your baby, you can also spend more time with your baby in the neonatal unit by asking the doctor.
- If your doctor suggests, you can start feeding your baby.
- When you take the child home from the hospital, follow the doctor’s instructions and take good care of the child.
Some Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor
Some questions related to the care for a premature baby that you should ask your doctor:
Q. If my first child is premature, is there any risk of my second child being premature?
If your baby was born between 37 and 42 weeks, you are more likely to deliver a full-term baby next time. However, if you have delivered your baby between 20 and 31 weeks, there is a higher chance that you will have a premature delivery again.
Q. What should I do so that my premature baby develops as well as other full-term babies?
Mostly, premature babies can develop like full-term babies if they are not born very early or have some medical complications. Taking good care of yourself, ensuring adequate sleep, and kangaroo care will help your baby develop optimally.
Q. When should a premature baby be introduced to other family members?
Your premature baby is more prone to infection, and thus any family member who has an infection like cold or flu should stay away from the baby. Ask them to wash their hands thoroughly whenever anyone wants to touch the baby.
Q. Are premature babies at risk of chronic health problems?
Your premature baby may have many health problems because he/she did not have enough time to develop. It has been observed that the sooner the baby is born, the higher the chances of health problems such as difficulty in breathing, weak muscles, hearing loss, heart problems, etc.
Also Read: How To Bathe A Newborn Baby?
Although premature babies require more care, over time, their development is similar to that of full-term babies. Consult your doctor from time to time to help your baby grow better.
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