Did you have a baby who came into the world early? Perhaps they came early spontaneously (they were ready but not really ready) or maybe you had no choice but to deliver your baby early for medical reasons etc. I’ve been there too. Like anyone who has been in this situation it comes with very mixed feelings of shock, surprise, confusion, happiness, love, doubt, worry and everything else. It really was a wave of emotions for me.
When I look back on my experience I was given all the advice I needed for Jasper from a medical point of view but no one really explained to me what it meant to have a premature baby from a developmental point of view, from a sleep point of view and what the differences were that I would experience when comparing Jasper to a full term baby.
I have prepared some advice and tips for all those needing some additional support with this topic.
PREMATURE BABY SLEEP NEEDS
Premature babies are sleepy and they will likely sleep like a newborn for longer than if they were born at full term. The earlier a baby is born the longer this newborn like sleep stage can continue. Depending on your baby’s unique premature development you might not experience typical changes in sleep behaviours that other parents have experienced with their baby’s at the same birth age. This is why it is important to base your baby’s sleep needs on their corrected age (their due date). For example, if your baby is 8 weeks old but was born at 34 weeks gestation, your baby’s corrected age is 2 weeks old.
A premature baby has a sleep schedule the same as a newborn. Newborn babies can’t handle long periods of awake time and between the age of 0-8 weeks old an appropriate wake window during the day is between 45-75 minutes (between waking from one nap and going to bed for the next nap). Premature babies may only handle being awake at the lower end of the scale of the newborn wake window i.e. 45 minutes. It is important to allow your little one to get the rest they need to develop and grow. Your baby may be in this sleep schedule for what seems like a long time.
My advice here is give it time. Please use your baby’s corrected age when taking into consideration what your baby “should” be doing for their age. Don’t get disheartened if every baby in your mothers group is starting to roll and your baby is still just sleeping. Premature development is complex and differs across children, however, premature infants do catch up and eventually are doing the same things as what other children the same age are doing. 85% of premature infants reach their regular growth chart by 2 years of age. SUPPORT
Trust your instinct! I am so glad I trusted mine. If you feel like something is not right i.e. your child isn’t feeding well, isn’t sleeping like you think they should be or you think your child should be doing certain things that they can’t do please seek professional opinions and advice. There may be nothing wrong and time could be the answer or you may, like me, find underlying causes having a negative impact on sleep and development.
If you have a premature baby and you need support with their sleep please refer to the sleep packages on my website.
The Hush Co