When your little bundle of joy arrives too early, it causes red flags to go off in your mind. From taking care of them once they leave the hospital to transitioning your little one into the home environment, preemie care is anything but easy. However, with a few tips and techniques under your belt from your holistic pediatrician, premature infant care is a joyous experience filled with laughter and pride. For the parents starting their journey caring for their child, here’s what you need to keep in mind in subsequent weeks and months.
Maintain Regular Checkups
Let’s face it: the life of a newfound parent is mainly spent within a medical environment. From regular checkups to prodding your pediatrician with “what’s this?” questions, parents live and breathe on the advice handed down by their medical consultants.
Knowing this, it’s essential that your preemie maintain frequent and routine checkups with their holistic doctor. Although all children, regardless of their medical issues, must be monitored for various ailments that crop up in their first few years of life, premature children need extra love. Additional tests, such as oxygen saturation tests, echocardiograms, eye exams and fluid analysis are paramount during the first year of a preemie’s life. While scheduling and visiting a doctor seems like a burden, building a relationship with your holistic pediatrician is essential for lifelong care and quality of life.
Sleep and Recovery
Like their adult counterparts, premature babies need all the sleep and recovery they can muster to ensure the delicate underpinnings of their system grow healthy and strong. Knowing this, parents must create a safe and easily-accessible sleeping environment in their home to keep their children safe and sound during slumber.
For starters, avoid co-sleeping setups whereby the child naps at your side. Although some cultures practice co-sleeping methods to help their beloved children slip into blissful sleep, Western doctors fear that a sleep-deprived parent may roll over onto their preemie, damaging their body or causing suffocation.
Instead, we encourage parents to use a bassinet close to the bed for easy access and monitoring. Similarly, parents must remove unwanted items from the enclosure, such as blankets, toys, bottles and cloth materials, to ensure the child’s safety while they rest and dream.
Although adults can easily detect when their airway becomes constricted during sleep, children have yet to develop the neural connections that alert them when something is awry. Parents should utilize a bassinet with a sturdy, flat surface without any excess padding or cushioning. These materials can easily cover the child’s airways, causing unintended sleep accidents to occur in the blink of an eye.
Keep a Consistent Feeding Schedule
Since our bundle of joy is, more than likely, underweight, it’s essential that we keep a steady flow of calories and minerals flowing into their body for optimal growth. Although parents understand their child’s nutritional requirements, most holistic pediatricians recommend parents feed their child between 8 and 10 times within 24 hours for optimal weight gain. As a rule of thumb: never allow a child to go longer than 4 hours without milk or formula. If pumping or breastfeeding options aren’t available, consider a gentle formula for your baby to drink during peak feeding windows.
Keep Calm and Press On
This last tip is for the parents: while your days are inundated by errands and riddled with the side effects of sleep exhaustion, know that the journey becomes easier to manage as your child ages. Although having children is never a trivial experience, it’s hard for newfound parents to preemie babies to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Instead, realize that once your child catches up in weight and achieves their first developmental milestones, caring for a preemie baby becomes fun, comical and, most of all, a rewarding experience that you will never forget. Use the steps listed above to ensure the safety and growth of your premature child in the months to come.