Each child is an individual and will grow and develop at her own rate. However, broad guidelines for development can be helpful in understanding what is realistic to expect a child to accomplish by certain ages. If your child was born prematurely it is very important that you use her corrected age when looking at these milestones.
At birth a prematurely born baby's muscles and nervous system do not function at the same level as do a full-term infant's. It takes roughly forty weeks for all systems in an infant's body to be at the point of maturity we associate with a newborn. If a child is born early she will continue to develop as if she were still in the womb. Experiencing the world prematurely will not accelerate the normal progression of development. However, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment and some of the complications of prematurity may have a significant effect on her developmental maturation.
In this section of our resource room we outline general developmental milestones you can expect to observe in your child from infancy through eighteen months of age. We also provide you with information on some of the common ways prematurity may effect your child's progress through these steps. Children may pass through these steps at different rates. Some children may even take a somewhat different route. We provide indications as to when these variations are of concern and should be evaluated further.
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