Premature Baby: Turn Small Starts Into Big Futures

Premature Baby: Turn Small Starts Into Big Futures


1 in 10 babies are born premature or low birth weight1. With the right care and nutrition, your premature baby can live a happy, healthy life.

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation). Across countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born. Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions. About 25 million children are born every year in India. As per the estimates, about 1.7 million of these births are preterm, and thus at higher risk of death during early neonatal, late neonatal, and postneonatal periods. 2,3

With the right care and nutrition, premature babies can live happy, healthy lives4

Like most parents of premature babies, you’re probably both excited and anxious about taking your baby home. Your transition from hospital to home, and getting into a comfortable routine, will take time as well.

Many parents blame themselves for their baby’s premature birth. These reactions are normal. During the days in the hospital, albeit being challenging, enabled you and your baby to develop bonds that will grow even stronger now that you’re home. This is a lifelong process of attachment that is important to healthy development.

Premature Baby Development

When considering your baby’s development, think in terms of his / her “adjusted age”. You can find it by subtracting the number of months your baby was born early from his / her actual age5.

Adjusted age gives parents and health care professionals a realistic view of a premature baby’s progress. A 5-month-old baby who was born 3 months early should be considered a 2 month-old from a developmental point of view.

Adjusted Age


Your Baby’s Actual Age


(–) Number of Months Premature


(=) Adjusted Age


Practical Tips

Car Safety: Always place your baby in a government-approved, rear-facing safety seat in the back seat of your car. A premature baby in a car seat will need extra support to keep her/his body straight to breathe easily. Rolled-up blankets and cloth diapers can provide padding to keep her/him from slumping over and will help prevent excessive movement6.


Diapers: You may want to buy diapers that are designed to fit premature babies.


Room Temperature: According to AAP/American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) standards, ambient air should be kept between 22°C and 26°C with a relative humidity of 30%–60% for infants outside of their incubator environment.

Clinicians should strive to keep infant body temperature above 36.5°C as a minimum safe level to prevent hypothermia.

Premature babies do not  have much insulating baby fat and has trouble coping with temperature changes.7,8


Bath time: Premature babies lose body heat quickly7,8. This is why you should keep bath time as short as possible.


Infection Control: Once you get your baby home, give yourself a few weeks of adjustment time before having company. Ensure that visitors are healthy. Insist that they wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching baby. Be aware that kissing can spread infections. Hug her/him gently or stroke her/his head instead9.


Tips for Relieving Your Stress:10

  • Whenever possible, sleep when your baby sleeps. 
  • Gladly accept family and friends help with cooking, cleaning and running errands, if offered. 
  • Take time-outs. Privacy and recreation for you are essential. 
  • Talking to other parents who have a premature baby at home can help lower anxiety and stress. Check with the NICU staff on parent support groups.

Your Premature Baby's Future

Most premature infants develop normally. Only a small percentage of babies born early have serious long term problems.

One of the most important factors in the development of premature infants is their home environment. Your loving attention and care will help your baby develop to his/her full potential11.

It’s easy for parents to become overly protective of their premature baby – even when the doctors or nurse has assured them that all is well. In these families, the child may become dependent and demanding. As a parent of a premature infant, you need to help your child develop emotionally as well as physically. As your baby grows, you can help by setting schedules and limits.

Stay in touch with your baby’s doctor and nurses. They can reassure you about your baby’s progress and help you develop workable schedules. Having a daily routine is essential to healthy parent-child relationship that you both need.

Here’s wishing you and your baby good health and many happy years ahead.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor or a nutrition advisor for any specific health and wellness concerns or questions.



1. birth is when a,2020 to 10.5%25 in 2021.

2. Adapted from dated 14th Nov 2022. Accessed on 28th Nov 2022.

3. Kannaujiya AK, et al. Effect of preterm birth on earlyneonatal, late neonatal, and postneonatal mortality in India. PLOS Glob Public Health 2022; 2(6): e0000205.

4. Kumar RK, Singhal A, Vaidya U, Banerjee S, Anwar F, Rao S. Optimizing Nutrition in Preterm Low Birth Weight Infants-Consensus Summary. Front Nutr. 2017 May 26;4:20. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00020. PMID: 28603716; PMCID: PMC5445116.


6. Car seat safety for preterm babies and babies with breathing problems. Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Jan;5(1):57-67. doi: 10.1093/pch/5.1.57. PMID: 20107596; PMCID: PMC2810673.


8. Konbel-Dail et al; Role of effective thermoregulation in premature neonates, 2014:4 147–156

9. Keay AJ, Simpson RM. Prevention of infection in nurseries for the newborn. Postgrad Med J. 1977 Oct;53(624):583-7. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.53.624.583. PMID: 593976; PMCID: PMC2496769.  

10. Interview of Benjamin Harding, MD, a neonatologist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. How to cope with stress if your premature infant is in the NICU. By Sheann Brandon. Published on November 8, 2021. Accessed on 28th Nov 2022

11. Cheong JLY, Burnett AC, Treyvaud K, Spittle AJ. Early environment and long-term outcomes of preterm infants. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2020 Jan;127(1):1-8. doi: 10.1007/s00702-019-02121-w. Epub 2019 Dec 20. PMID: 31863172.

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