Preemies are at a higher risk for developmental delays than full-term babies. Because of this, every parent of a preemie should know their child’s current capabilities and how they stack up against the average (you can check out developmental milestones here: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html).
My three preemies have all been involved in the Early Intervention program (link: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/ei-overview/) as infants and toddlers. They initially qualified for the program for delays like failure to roll over and failure to track moving objects with their eyes. Upon enrollment, they achieved those milestones and then tackled other milestones in language and cognition.
My two oldest children tested out and my youngest is currently working on some motor and cognitive delays with a specialist that comes to our home once every two weeks. The specialist plays with my son, encouraging him to walk and playing with him in a way that fosters intellectual growth. She gives me tips on how to play with him and what to watch for.
Maybe my children would have reached their milestones without Early Intervention, but I didn’t want to take any chances! Early Intervention – or EI – is a program to help infants and toddlers from 0 to 3 years old who show a developmental delay. The program is staffed by social workers, developmental specialists, and medical professionals. Many states offer EI services at no cost to participants, while others offer them at a cost based on a family’s earnings.
If you notice anything amiss in your preemie’s development, talk to your pediatrician about getting a referral to EI. Do not wait to see if the problem will go away on its own! The earlier you intervene, the better chance your child has.