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    Premature Babies

    How to take care of your premature baby at home: Some Useful Tips

    Written on 27 April 2022

    Since preemies have not developed fully in the womb, they need special care. Read the below article to learn how to learn premature baby care tips.

    A birth that occurs more than three weeks before the estimated due date is called premature birth. Premature babies may have complications associated with premature birth that include poor weight gain, feeding issues, jaundice, anemia, respiratory disorder, etc. These babies need extra care and medical supervision as they are born earlier than their term.

    Why do Premature Babies Need Special Care?

    Premature babies do not have fully developed body systems. This places them at a certain risk that gradually fades away with proper care and treatment. Hence, premature baby care comes into the picture as you bring a premature baby home. First and foremost, premature babies require spending a few days under special neonatal care or NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). From the time you bring your little bundle of joy home, you need to follow some important tips with regard to taking care of your premature baby at home.

    Premature Baby Care Tips

    If you wonder how to handle premature baby care at home, know that your preemie’s needs are pretty much the same as any other baby’s. You may want to give extra attention to just a few things.

    Premature Baby Sleep

    Remember that feeding and sleeping are important for your baby’s health. Premature babies generally sleep more than full-term babies. Care should be taken to maintain their sleep comfort.

    Premature babies have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). To prevent this, you must ensure that:

    • Your baby is put to sleep on their back.
    • Your baby sleeps in the same room as you do.
    • Your baby’s mattress is firm and flat, with no pillows.
    • Your baby is not co-sleeping with you.

    Optimized Feeding

    In the initial days, right after birth, some premature babies have problems sucking and breathing while breastfeeding, and hence, you will have to feed your baby via IV or tubes temporarily.

    Preemies require more nourishment to catch up on their growth. Therefore, breastfeeding is vitally important for preterm babies. Breast milk, especially colostrum (the first milk), has many benefits for premature babies, such as:

    • Helping your baby to fight infections
    • Maturing your baby’s gut
    • Bonding with your baby
    • Providing essential nutrients that help your baby to grow and develop

    Premature babies typically need 8-10 feeds a day. Ensure that you do not give a gap of more than 4 hours, as it causes dehydration. But, also keep in mind that their intestines are not fully mature, so you don’t want to overfeed your preemie.

    Preventing Infections in a Premature Baby

    Preemies are at risk of getting infections as they are born with low immunity. In order to prevent infections:

    • Make sure that whoever meets your baby is washing their hands.
    • Immunization is the path to improved health. Immunize your baby with vaccines according to doctor-recommended schedules.
    • Ensure that caregivers have taken the flu vaccine and maintain proper hygiene.
    • Limit visitors to your home.
    • Avoid going to public places during the first few weeks.

    Signing up with a Pediatrician

    As soon as your baby gets discharged from the hospital, schedule their first appointment with a pediatrician. Signing up with a pediatrician is important to monitor your baby’s health and growth. Follow routine check-ups and tests as suggested by your baby’s pediatrician. Remember to keep track of a few things with your pediatrician:

    • Discuss how your baby is doing at home and inform the doctor if you observe anything unusual.
    • Check if the child is gaining weight as per age.
    • Go for routine tests, including blood, hearing, and vision tests.
    • Record your baby’s progress in growth.

    Kangaroo Mother Care for Premature Babies

    Your premature baby needs kangaroo care for the initial few weeks. Kangaroo mother care for premature babies is a method by which the mother cares for the baby by giving skin-to-skin contact.

    This method has been proven to be a great exercise for newborns. You can simply have the baby dressed in a nappy, wrapped with a blanket on their back, and resting on your bare chest so that they are tightly secured to your body. The benefits of kangaroo care for premature babies are many:

    • Reduces any pain, stress, and anxiety your child is feeling.
    • Promotes healthy weight gain.
    • Helps establish bonding between you and your child.
    • Eases establishing breastfeeding.
    • Soothes and comforts your baby to adapt to its new environment.
    • Regulates your baby’s heart rate and breathing.
    • It helps generate body heat as your preemie has low body fat.

    Bathing

    Premature babies can lose body heat rapidly as they cannot control their body temperature as effectively as full-term babies. Once your baby’s temperature and health are stable, you can give them the first bath.

    Your baby’s bath routine should look like this:

    • Bathe them in warm water.
    • Have a towel within easy reach to soak dry, and wrap soon after the bath.
    • Dress your baby in layers, wrap in a swaddle/shawl, or zip up in a sleeping bag.

    Note: If the weather is too hot, babies can experience overheating. This, in turn, increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The best way to fight this is to layer them according to the weather conditions.

    First Aid

    Parents of preemies must be skilled enough to recognize and deal with illness and emergencies. Get yourself trained in basic techniques like CPR and lifesaving skills to rescue your baby from potential risks.

    Recording your Baby’s Growth

    We know that premature babies grow at a different pace than full-term babies. However, they eventually catch up. Consult your pediatrician to maintain a growth chart to monitor your baby’s growth.

    You can record your baby’s milestones to understand your baby’s growth rate. This will also help identify any particular lag or issues that can be treated immediately.

    Care for Yourself

    While you are learning and practicing how to take care of a premature baby, don’t overlook caring for yourself by eating well, resting, and rejuvenating. Often mothers overlook their health and fitness while giving all their attention to their precious little ones.

    • Spend time with your other children as much as you can.
    • Get help from family and friends whenever you can.
    • Treat yourself well by making time to do what you love.
    • If you feel overwhelmed or depressed, do not hesitate to get professional help.

    We understand that handling a preemie at home can sometimes become overwhelming. But you will eventually learn strategies to help your baby thrive. Amidst all the chaos, don’t miss to enjoy some time cuddling and playing with your little bundle of joy.

    References

    • Tommy's Pregnancy Hub.(August, 2021). Premature Babies.https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/premature-birth/feeding-your-premature-baby-in-the-hospital.tommys.
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