How To Keep Premature Babies Healthy

If you're a new parent, you've probably already learned that when it comes to babies, things rarely go as planned. This is especially true if your baby was born prematurely. Premature babies, or those born before their due date, typically need to stay in the hospital longer than full-term babies, as they need some extra time to mature. Some babies just need an extra day or two, while others may need to stay in the Neonatology Intensive Care Unit for several months or more. Even when your preemie is ready to finally come home, he or she will need extra care.

  1. Opt to breastfeed if at all possible, as your milk will provide many benefits that will be important for your baby's health and development. Most premature newborns eat 8 or more times a day.
  2. Recognize that preemies sleep most of the time, and can be difficult to wake up. This is to be expected and is not usually cause for concern by itself.
  3. Bond with your preemie by placing him or her clad in only a diaper on your bare chest.  This method, which is called kangaroo care, encourages premature babies to breastfeed and stabilizes their heart rate and breathing. Just be sure the room is warm enough for the baby, or place a light blanket over both of you.
  4. Allow your baby to suck on his or her hand or your breast. This helps to teach the infant how to suck, swallow and breathe at once.
  5. Swaddle your baby in a receiving blanket to make him or her feel safe.
  6. Use an infant rear-facing car seat for your preemie. Make sure that your baby's medical team has done a trial run before its first use, though, to monitor the newborn's breathing rate, heart rate and blood-oxygen level.
  7. Be prepared to use special monitors at home if your baby has breathing problems such as apnea, which is a condition where the baby has brief pauses in breathing.
  8. Learn infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. This will allow you to be prepared for any complications.
  9. Limit your baby's exposure to germs. Because many preemies have immature immune systems, they are more susceptible to infections.
  10. Ask all visitors to wash their hands before touching or holding your baby.
  11. Closely monitor your baby's weight gain and growth on a special chart for preemies. Realize that preemies may grow more slowly than other children, so it is important to track their progress.
  12. Talk with your pediatrician about any vitamins or iron that your baby might need. If you bottle feed, you may need to use a special formula.


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