The developmental stages of premature babies

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Catherine Le Nevez
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Premature babies

A birth is defined as premature when it occurs before the 37th week of gestation and the majority of premature births (80%) occur between the 32nd and 37th week. A premature baby has times and times stages of growth different from those of a full-term baby. 





In this article

  • The correct age of premature babies 
  • The developmental stages of the premature baby 
  • At 2 months (8 weeks) 
  • At 4 months (16 weeks) 
  • A 6 mesi
  • A 9 mesi
  • At 12 months (one year)
  • A 15 mesi
  • At 18 months (1 year and a half)
  • At 24-30 months (2 years - 2 and a half years) 
  • At 2 and a half years - 3 years
  • At 3 and a half years old
  • A 4 years
  • A 5 years
Read also: Premature Babies: Causes, Risks, and Feeding of Preterm Babies

The correct age of premature babies

First, to calculate the correct age of the premature baby, it is necessary to subtract from 40 settimane of a normal pregnancy, the gestational week in which the baby was born.



For example, if your baby was born at 32 weeks of gestation, he was 8 weeks (2 months) preterm. If you are now 4 months old (16 weeks after birth), its correct age is 2 months. In this case, even if your baby is 4 months old, you should expect him to have le psycho-physical development capacity of a 2-month full-term baby.
It would be unrealistic to expect your baby to be ready to roll from his tummy onto his back, a skill that often develops in full-term infants around 4 months of age.

Read also: The correct age of premature babies

The podcast: how to cope with premature birth?

Also listen to the podcast with the answer of the doctor to the question: how to deal with premature birth?



Together with Professor Mario De Curtis he wrote the book "Little babies - Stories of babies in today's country" (The third). Amazing and intense real-life tales that teach us how courageously and lovingly mothers, fathers, doctors and nurses face the challenge of embracing each new life, even in difficult conditions, in a neonatal intensive care unit. In the chapters that make up the book, every single story becomes an opportunity for a medical study and for a reflection on human, social, bioethical and legislative issues.

The developmental stages of the premature baby

Watch the progress: the most important thing is make sure your child is progressing in his or her development. Remember that children reach new milestones at different ages. You know your child better than anyone else: when you look closely, you will notice how well he is growing. You will also know if he needs further help. Remember, you don't have to do it alone. There are doctors, teachers and other qualified people who can support you.

Here are the main ones evolutionary stages of development of premature babies.

At 2 months (8 weeks)

Motor activities

  • He actively moves his arms and legs
  • He keeps his hands open most of the time
  • Lift your head and chest up when lying on your stomach
  • Check your head a little, but it might still need some support
  • He holds items in his hand

Language

  •  Responds to sounds (for example, turns around when hearing voices and rattles)
  •  It makes noises like "aaaah" and "ooooh"
  •  He cries when he needs something

Activities

  • Fix your eyes on a person or an object (a cell phone, for example) and follow their movement
  • He has different cries for different needs

Socialization / emotionality

  •  He makes eye contact and smiles
  •  Recognizes and appreciates interactions with mom

At 4 months (16 weeks)

Motor activities

  • Bring your hands together or to your mouth
  • Lift your head and push on your arms when on your stomach
  • It reaches objects
  • It turns or crawls when on its stomach

Language

  •  Turn your head to follow familiar voices
  •  He laughs and shouts
  •  Combine sounds more often (for example, "aaah-oooh", "gaaa-gooo")

Activities

  •  Grab more and reach for objects
  •  Carry items in your mouth
  •  Increase activity when seeing a toy

Socialization / emotionality

  •  He is increasingly interactive and at ease with his parents 
  •  He shows an interest in mirrors, smiles and is playful
  •  He is able to console himself
Read also: Premature babies, the possible risks to life

A 6 mesi

Motor activities

  •  Puts weight on your feet when held upright
  •  He sits alone
  •  Bangs and shakes objects
  •  Transfer items from one hand to the other
  •  Holds 2 items at a time, one in each hand
  •  Roll from belly to back

Language

  •  He answers his name, turns and looks
  •  I stammer, with sounds like "da", "ga", "ba", "ka"

Activities

  • Pay attention to what toys can do (make music and light up, for example)
  • Look towards the falling object out of sight

Socialization / emotionality

  • He is becoming more aware of his surroundings
  • It notices if the parents are present (or not)
  • He reacts differently to strangers
  • It expresses enthusiasm, happiness and unhappiness

A 9 mesi

Motor activities

He picks up small objects with his thumb and finger

Moves easier (crawls, moves along furniture, walks when holding hand)

He gets to his feet

Language

  • Recognizes familiar words (his name and phrases such as "bath time" and "goodbye")
  • Stammering with combination of vowels and consonants (for example, "dada", "baba", "mamma")
  • Imitate sounds and movements

Activities

  • He explores the objects carefully (turns them upside down, puts his hands inside the openings)
  • Is more involved in feedings (try to hold bottle or pick up snacks)
  • He holds the toy that is taken away

Socialization / emotionality

  • He plays cu-cu-sette and claps his hands enthusiastically
  • He can show anxiety towards strangers

At 12 months (one year)

Motor activities

  • He is able to stand alone
  • It takes its first steps
  • Turn the pages of a book a few at a time
  • Put small items in containers

Language

  • Combine movements with sounds (reach for an object and use your voice at the same time)
  • He stops or stops when he is told not to do something
  • Associate "mom" or "dad" with parents
  • Use a word by repeating it
  • He hands you an item when requested

Activities

  • He is able to feed himself better (tries to drink from the cup)
  • Helps you get dressed

Socialization / emotionality 

  •  He prefers to be with his parents 
  •  Play with other children

A 15 mesi

Motor activities

  • Walk unaided 
  • He climbs onto chairs and other furniture

Language

  • Use 2 words besides "mamma" and "dada"
  • Asks for food or drink with sounds or words
  • Show what he wants by pulling, pointing, or verse

Activities

Eat with a spoon, often insisting on eating alone

Socialization / emotionality

  •  Give kisses
  •  Greet people with a "hello"
  •  Hear a story

At 18 months (1 year and a half)

Motor activities

  • He scribbles
  • He walks unaided and sometimes runs
  • Kick the ball forward
  • Throw a toy 

Language

  • Follows simple directions, such as "give it to dad"
  • Says an increasing number of simple words (at least 5-10)
  • Indicates nose, mouth, eyes, ears, hands and feet

Activities 

  • Likes to eat alone
  • Show how objects work in a "pretend" game (feed a doll, pour tea into the cup, brush hair)

Socialization / emotionality 

  • He says no when he is not indulged
  • He can separate from the parent more easily, but he is happy when he sees the parent again
Read also: Premature babies: what are the health consequences?

At 24-30 months (2 years - 2 and a half years)

Motor activities

  • He goes on the pedal tricycle
  • Cut with small scissors
  • Draw or copy a full circle
  • He jumps in place, balances on one foot

Language

  •  Speak clearly (understandable most of the time)
  •  Includes prepositions like "in", "on", "below", "beside"
  •  Combine sentences using and, or, but

Daily activities

  • He uses the toilet and washes his face and hands
  • He dresses with help

Socialization / emotionality 

  •  Gives directions to other children
  •  Plays a role in pretend play (mom, dad, teacher)

At 2 and a half years - 3 years

Motor activities

  • He goes on the pedal tricycle
  • Cut with small scissors
  • Draw or copy a full circle
  • He jumps in place, balances on one foot

Language

  • Speak clearly (understandable most of the time)
  • Includes prepositions like "in", "up", "below", "beside"
  • Combine sentences using and, or, but

Daily activities

  • He knows how to use the toilet and washes his face and hands
  • He dresses with help

Socialization / emotionality

  • Gives directions to other children
  • Plays a role in pretend play (mom, dad, teacher)

At 3 and a half years old

Motor activities

  • He can jump on one foot
  • Cut the paper with scissors

Language

  • Correctly identifies 4 colors
  • He knows the concept of size, shape, number
  • Count 5 or more items when asked "how many?"

Activities

  • He washes his face unaided
  • She dresses and undresses unaided, except for shoelaces

Socialization / emotionality

  • Play cooperatively with other children

A 4 years

Motor activities

  • Jump on one foot repeatedly for a few seconds
  • Jump or perform large jumps
  • Draw recognizable images
  • Draw a person with at least 3 parts (head, eyes, nose)

Language

  • A series of 3 simple instructions follows
  • Read some letters
  • It speaks in full sentences and is easily understood
  • It makes a conversation and tells stories of everyday life

Activities

  • He can press one or more buttons
  • He usually looks both ways before crossing the street

Emotional socialization

  •  It is protective of younger children
  • Follows simple rules in board or card games

A 5 years

Motor activities

  • He can ride the swing by himself
  • He can write his own name

Language

  • Says the meaning of familiar words
  • Recognizes most of the letters of the alphabet

Activities

  • He goes to the bathroom without any help

Socialization / emotionality

  • Show leadership among other children
  • Play disguises and pretenses
Read also: 50 Exciting Stories of Premature Babies

Other sources for this article:

Healthy Chldren.org: Preemie milestones 

Questions and answers

When is a baby defined as premature?   

Premature is a baby born before 37 weeks, to be exact before 37 + 6 weeks.

How many children are born prematurely in the country?  

In Del Paese they are more than 99%, if we consider all births before 37 weeks of pregnancy and more than 85% if we consider the very young, born with a weight of less than 1,5 kg.

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  • premature babies
  • stages of growth
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