Premature infants go through the same developmental steps as all other babies. However, when looking at growth and development, we adjust the baby's age by subtracting the number of weeks she was early from her current age. For example, if your baby was born eight weeks early, subtract eight weeks or two months. Thus, when your baby is six months old, consider her growth and development as if she were four months old. This is important to remember when you start solid foods and whole milk and when you expect your baby to crawl or walk. There is no difference in the timing of your baby's immunizations, however.
By the time your baby is two years old, there is very little difference in growth and development if she was born one or two months early. At that age, you would no longer consider your baby's prematurity when looking at development. But for babies born three months early, it may take a little longer.
Your primary care provider will be watching your baby's growth and development. Also, health or education departments in all communities sponsor free early intervention programs to monitor your baby's development and assist you and your family with any concerns you may have.
Barbara Jones Deloian, PhD, RN, CPNP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner who currently works in a feeding clinic for children with feeding problems at the Children's Hospital in Denver and an early intervention homecare program for infants and toddlers who were born prematurely or with special health care needs.