Dealing with a Lice Outbreak? Get the Best Treatment Now.

Normal Growth And Development Of Premature Infants


Premature infants, also called preterm infants, are babies born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation. Gestation is the number of weeks a baby spends in his mother's womb. Full-term infants spend 40 week in their mother's womb. Most premature babies are born before vital parts of the body have fully formed. This may cause different problems in their body systems, including problems with feeding, breathing, or staying warm. Your baby may need to stay in a special care unit while he continues to grow and develop. Each premature infant may be affected differently depending on how early he was born. The earlier a baby is born, the higher his risk of having health problems.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.

Follow-up visit information:

Keep all appointments. Regular check-ups and tests will help caregivers know if your baby has problems that need treatment. Ask caregivers for information about infant massage and other ways to comfort your baby. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your baby's next visit.

Caring for your baby:

  • Always have him vaccinated: Take your baby to his caregiver for vaccinations (shots). He may need to have all the standard shots, as well as shots against the flu or pneumonia. Ask your baby's caregiver which vaccinations are right for him, and for more information about them.

  • Do not let anyone smoke around your child. Breathing in cigarette smoke can harm your child's body in many ways. Your child is more likely to get certain types of infections if he breathes in cigarette smoke. Being around cigarette smoke can also affect your child's lungs and cause breathing problems. Do not let anyone smoke inside your home. If you smoke, you should quit. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.

  • Have your baby's hearing and eyesight checked: Prematurity may cause problems with your baby's eyes and ears. He may need to be checked regularly for these problems. Eye problems may be helped with surgery or glasses. Many hearing problems may be helped with hearing aids. Your baby must be able to see and hear well so he can learn to do things correctly, such as speaking and walking. Ask caregivers if and when your baby's eyes and ears need to be checked.

  • Find support for your child: An occupational or speech therapist may work with your child to help him talk or swallow correctly.

Diet and nutrition:

  • Breast feeding and milk formula: Feed your child breast milk or a special preterm formula suggested by his caregiver. Giving your baby milk with the right nutrients help his body grow faster. It also helps develop his brain. Ask his caregiver for more information on feeding your baby. You may also contact the following for more help on breast feeding a premature infant:
    • La Leche League International
      957 North Plum Grove Road
      Schaumburg , IL 60173
      Phone: 1- 847 - 519-7730
      Phone: 1- 800 - 525-3243
      Web Address:

  • Healthy foods: Your baby may be able to have foods other than milk when he is able to control his head and tongue. This may happen at about 4 to 8 months of corrected age. Ask your baby's caregiver if he should be on a special diet. Water and juices should not be given before your baby reaches six months of age.

  • Supplements: Ask your baby's caregiver if your baby needs to use extra vitamins and minerals.

Using a car seat or bed:

  • Always use approved car seats correctly. Put the car seat in the back seat of the car and face it backward.

  • Use a car seat without a shield harness since the shield can be too high for small infants.

  • If your baby develops a problem using a car seat, use a car bed instead.

  • Always have an adult sit in the back with the baby in a car bed.

  • Devices, such as monitors or other equipment, should be charged enough to have power that lasts for at least twice the travel time.

  • Make sure all equipment is secured safely in the car so that it does not cause injury if you need to stop suddenly.

  • Ask caregivers for instructions on putting a premature infant in a car seat. You may also contact:
    • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington , DC 20590
      Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
      Web Address:


  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your baby has chills or a cough.

  • Your baby's skin is swollen or has a rash.

  • You have any questions or concerns about your baby's condition, treatment, or care.


  • Your baby has trouble breathing.

  • Your baby is unable to eat or drink anything for 24 hours.

  • Your baby's skin, lips, or fingernails are pale or bluish in color.

  • Your baby is unable to wake up after having an apnea (breathing pause) event.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Normal Growth And Development Of Premature Infants (Discharge Care)