Premature infants have delicate digestive systems, small stomachs, and underdeveloped sucking and rooting reflexes. But don't worry, with the nutritional needs, right care, and attention, you can help your preemie thrive!
What is Premature Birth?
Premature birth is a severe health concern that can lead to various complications, including nutritional deficiencies. A baby is considered premature if born before the 37th week of pregnancy in a normal 40-week pregnancy.
Early birth may result from various factors, such as multiple pregnancies, infection, maternal health problems, or genetic factors. Premature infants, also called "premies," require special attention to ensure their healthy growth and development.
Why Are Premature Infants' Nutritional Needs Different from Term Babies?
- Preterm babies require more calories than full-term babies due to their higher metabolic rate.
- Their digestive system is not fully developed, making them more susceptible to digestive problems.
- Premature babies lack the sucking and rooting reflex, making it difficult for them to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
- They have a small stomach size, so they need to be fed frequently, but in small amounts.
- Their immune system is not fully developed, making them more vulnerable to infections and diseases.
Things to Keep in Mind in Taking Care of Premature Babies
- The environment around the baby needs to be clean and hygienic to prevent infections.
- Visitors should be limited and should wash their hands and wear clean clothes before visiting the baby.
- If the baby is fed with expressed milk or formula milk, hygiene needs to be maintained to avoid any contamination.
- Breast milk is considered the best food for premature babies as it provides all the essential nutrients for their growth and development.
- Human milk fortifiers may be recommended under a doctor's supervision if the baby is not gaining weight.
- Small and frequent feeds are recommended to help the baby digest the milk easily and avoid regurgitation.
- Overfeeding should be avoided as it can lead to spit-ups.
- Solid foods are usually not introduced until 6 months of age.
Developmental and Growth Evaluations
- Premature babies need more frequent visits to the doctor to check their growth and developmental milestones.
- Their corrected age is less than their actual age, and their growth and milestones are measured according to their corrected age.
- Premature babies can catch up on their growth and development within two years.
Need for Supplements to Reduce Nutritional Deficiencies
- Calcium, iron, and vitamin D supplements may be recommended by pediatricians to reduce nutritional deficiencies and support bone development.
- Supplements should be given under a doctor's supervision.
Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small, and be assured that with proper care and attention, your little one will continue to grow and thrive.
Regular monitoring of premature babies' growth and development is crucial. Our expert pediatricians provide specific guidance and support for your baby's needs via WhatsApp.
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