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Caring for a Premature Baby


In general, caring for children can be a daring task. But specifically caring for premature babies can be even harder, as they have extra needs that need to be met.

When a parent learns that their baby is premature, they may have concerns or questions that plague their minds. There is a lot of speculation and worry surrounding the concept of a baby born too early.

However, contrary to popular belief, having a premature baby is not only very common, but it is not something that has to be a worry. These children can lead perfectly normal and healthy lives.

With that being said, parents should still take efforts to brief themselves on what having a premature baby means in actuality.

What having a premature baby really means

A premature baby is typically described as a delivery that happens more than three weeks before the delivery date.

While the definition is pretty straight forward, many parents tend to get confused about what having a premature baby really means in relation to the rest of their life. It should be noted that a premature birth should not be something that the mother feels is her fault.

In most cases, people don’t really know what causes premature birth. If the parents have other medical conditions or poor health habits, that can be part of it.

Having a premature baby is not something that immediately needs to be a worry. But a lot of the time, it is because health risks can be paired with babies that come out too early.

Symptoms like being too small labored breathing and feeding difficulties are direct responses to premature birth.

While a baby born early can lead a perfectly normal and happy life, it should be noted that premature babies can have long term issues as well, such as heart problems, cerebral palsy, and other behavioral problems.

Because of this, after a baby is born, if they are too early, they will most likely need to remain in the hospital for a bit of time after birth. So the doctors can ensure that they are healthy enough and ready to go home.

When can you hold the baby?

As mentioned above, a lot of times, when a premature baby is born, the hospital will keep them a bit longer to ensure that they are healthy and ready to go home.

Because of this, parents may not get to have the immediate moment after birth to hold their children. In a lot of cases, it may take a few days before you can.

The time frame differs for each child, generally speaking. Once the baby has become stable, and the doctor agrees, you will be able to hold them.

However, the NICU is a very strict place. Parents will only be able to enter and do so after washing their hands and arms very well, as to keep the children safe.

When can I take my premature baby home?

Much like when you can hold the baby, taking the baby home is something that depends on each case. The doctors will make the call around it.

There are requirements that a baby must meet before they can come home. They typically are surrounded by their ability to be stable when it comes to temperature and other bodily functions.

However, until a baby can come home, the parents will be able to visit them every day. Most NICUs have around the clock visitation services so that parents can still see and interact with their baby as they so desire.

Choosing a pediatrician

A good rule of them while preparing to take a baby home from the NICU is to select a primary doctor and even schedule an appointment for them.

This is a good idea because you don’t want to wait until the last minute to do so. With a preterm baby, you never know when they will need extra care.

To ensure that everything is going right and they are healthy, frequent visits to the doctor can help a lot. Taking the time to pick one before they get discharged can alleviate the stress that the process can bring.

Learn CPR

As mentioned above, breathing and respiratory problems are something that many preterm babies are faced with. Thus, learning CPR is a great idea so that a parent can be prepared for any emergencies that may arise.

This can be up to the discretion of the parents, as not all premature babies will have breathing issues.

However, CPR is something that is good to know in general as well. Many places and even some hospitals and NICU units offer courses and diagrams on how to perform CPR. When doing so on a baby, it can look different than doing it on a full-grown person.

Limit who can come around the baby

After taking the baby home, special care should not stop. Similar to the way the NICU is set up, parents should make who can come around their baby very limited, as to keep them safe from germs they are exposed to, as their immune systems may not be as strong as other children.

Keeping babies away from public areas, and making family that comes to visit wash their hands thoroughly before coming around the baby are a great way to do this. Just limiting the number of people that can come around the child in the first place can help a great deal as well.


Though having a premature baby is something to be taken seriously, it doesn’t have to mean anything negative.

With proper education, parents can learn to take care of their babies and ensure that they live lives just like their non-preterm counterparts.

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