Education on Premature Babies
Baptist Health System offers a wide array of educational classes to prepare you and your family for the big day. Click here for more information and to register:
- Baby Care Class
- Back to Work and Breastfeeding Class
- Breastfeeding Class
- Car seat Safety
- Childbirth Education
- Childbirth Mini Refresher
- Grandparents’ Refresher Class
- Maternal – Child Tours
- Pets and Your Baby
- Prepared Childbirth Class
- Safe Sitter Class
- Siblings Class
Parenting in the NICU
We at Baptist Health System encourage parent and family involvement in our patient’s care. We will encourage you to learn to take your baby’s temperature, change their diaper and assist with bathing prior to discharge. Once your baby is more stable and is able to be held, feel free to bring in books or music to enjoy with your baby.
Understanding your Preemie
Most people do not think that babies are able to communicate with us because they are not able to talk. However, this is not true. Babies have very different ways to communicate and their communication skills advance the older they get. For example, as adults if someone is doing something to us that we do not like, we are able to tell them to stop, but since an infant can not tell us this verbally, we must learn their other cues.
Here are a few examples:
If your baby is happy and comfortable we will notice that their face is relaxed, they are smiling, their body is in a relaxed position and their arms and legs are relaxed.
However, if your baby is upset, we will notice that they will not make eye contact with you, their hands are stretched out, they will change their color to a very pale pink or blue tone, they will increase or decrease their breathing rate and they will have their body stretched out instead of in a relaxed position.
So, lets discuss the five senses. The first sense to develop is the sense of touch. At around 20 weeks gestation, a baby is able to feel touch, which is the foundation for future communications with your infant. A parent’s touch is very consoling and most babies will prefer a firm steady touch opposed to a stroking touch.
Shortly after this, the sense of smell is developed and your baby is able to differentiate your smell as parents from other people and the smell of his/her mother’s breast milk from that of another woman. Babies are also very sensitive to strong smells and prefer a sweet taste instead of a bitter taste.
The third sense that develops is taste. Around 35 weeks gestation, babies begin to have the coordination to suck, swallow and breathe. This is when he/she will be ready to breast or bottle feed.
Hearing develops from around 20 weeks gestation until 32 weeks gestation. Your baby will be able to hear muffled sounds in utero around 20 to 30 weeks and will start reacting to sounds around 25 weeks. Around 30 weeks gestation, your baby will start reacting either positively or negatively to sounds that they hear and can differentiate the parent’s voice from other noises. It is also around this age that the infant will start to prefer rhythmic sounds such as a heartbeat, waves or a breathing pattern.
Lastly, we will discuss your baby's sight. Around 25 weeks gestation, your baby's eyelids are open and can open and close but are not able to focus on objects. Babies can also have a stress reaction to visual stimulation at this time and will show this by closing their eyes and going back to sleep. Around 29 weeks, your baby will start trying to focus on objects; however they may decrease their heart rate or stop breathing when doing so. Once they are 30 – 32 weeks gestation, they will be able to focus on objects approximately 6 - 10 inches away and can track a moving object with their eyes. Around 36 weeks, we consider their eyes to be fully developed and notice that they have a preference to shapes and lines opposed to angles.
Need more information? Take a look at our Glossary.