Premature Infants – When your child is born prematurely, it can be difficult to feel fully secure about your ability to take care of them. Thankfully, there are many advancements in medicine that have made taking care of them safely easier than ever before. As long as you trust your medical professionals, and dedicate yourself to their care, you’ll keep your premature infant’s early months of development smooth and successful.
To ensure you know how to keep your premature infant secure, here are six essential health and lifestyle tips for parents with premature infants:
1. Restrict Their Diet, and Avoid Cow’s Milk-Derived Baby Formula
Keeping your premature infant’s diet strict and specific is crucial to their safe, healthy development. Only feed them what their doctor recommends, and always avoid any formulas that are associated with bacterial infections, or major lawsuits. Be extra careful to avoid products from Abbott Laboratories (Similac) and Mead Johnson & Company, LLC (Enfamil), as they produce many of the formulas that are linked to NEC in babies.
2. Don’t Compare Your Infant’s Needs to Non-Premature Infant’s Needs
Comparing your premature infant’s needs to those of other infants, especially those that were not born premature, is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to trust the suggestions of the medical professionals around you, as they know exactly what’s right for your baby.
Even if a loved one is insistent that they know better, or that their child benefited from something your doctor did not prescribe, avoid the urge to try out their suggestion. Doing so can greatly boost your premature infant’s chances of staying healthy and strong during their early months of development.
3. Stay In Touch with Your Pediatrician and NICU
Even after you leave the safe, secure environment of the hospital, and finally get your precious premature infant home, you must stay in close touch with your pediatrician, and the NICU (you are a team now, after all). Not only will they give you invaluable health advice, but they will help teach you other valuable parenting skills that you would have a difficult time putting together all on your own.
By staying on top of your baby’s health, and keeping in frequent contact with these medical professionals, you can ensure you catch any potential health problems much earlier on as well (which would even save your infant’s life).
4. Follow Important, Frequent Feeding Cues
Unlike normally-developed infants, premature infants require more frequent feeding sessions. Additionally, they require smaller portions. These two steps allow them to digest their food more easily, which will keep them calm, happy, and healthy.
In the first few weeks of feeding, you’ll often be giving them incredibly small portions, and it’s during this time that you need to be extra-resilient against the advice of others around you that your child needs more to eat. Following a hyper-specific, consistent, and properly-measured feeding schedule is of utmost importance to your premature infant’s ability to develop healthily.
5. Ensure Your Infant’s Environment is Always Clean
Cleanliness is key when taking care of a new child. With premature infants, the need for cleanliness is triple-fold, as even small bacteria can lead to serious infections. Feeding equipment, their living space, and other everyday objects must be kept extremely clean for your premature infant.
Before you come home from the hospital, you should do a deep clean of the living space, and then do your best to keep the environment at that level of cleanliness throughout your premature infant’s development. As a bonus, this new habit can help revolutionize the comfort of your living space as well!
6. Keep Your Infant Warm and Cozy
Just like you, your premature infant is happiest when it’s comfortable, cozy, and safe. In addition to keeping your living space clean, make sure it’s never too cold, or that your infant is not surrounded by comfortable, soft cloth. Swaddling them up, and having skin-to-skin contact is also incredibly important during these early months of development.
Make sure you give yourself extra time during your first few days at home with your infant to discover what helps them feel most comfortable, and you’ll save yourself tons of stress in the long run.
You Are Capable of Taking Care of Your Premature Infant:
Especially with these six tips and tricks under your belt, you’ll have the skills and knowledge needed to effectively care for your premature infant. While the process might seem frightening at first, the confidence you’ll gain as a parent over the first six months will help you feel more powerful and capable than ever.
Soon, your ability to take care of your premature infant will feel hard-wired into your brain, but in the meantime, simply stay vigilant and keep your mind open to the learning opportunities in front of you.
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