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  • Your Special Newborn Volume 2: The Premature

    Baby Comes Home

    LB2438_SpecialNewborn_Vol2_07_10.indd 1 7/9/10 8:23 AM

  • 1 Contents At home with your new baby .............................................................1

    Learning about your babys world ...................................................11

    Feeding your baby ...........................................................................14

    Your babys medical needs .............................................................21

    Everyday baby basics .....................................................................23

    Making parenthood a little easier ....................................................27

    At home with your new baby Its fi nally herethe day youre taking your new baby home! No more long days and nights in the NICU, surrounded by nurses, doctors, and equipment. Now, you can bring your baby home to his very own bed, in his very own room! This is an exciting time, and one youve looked forward to forever. But you still have doubts. After all, the hospital environment youre anxious to leave behind is the one youve depended on for support. You may wonder if youre ready to take care of your baby on your own. Dont worrythese are normal feelings. All parents, and especially those of premature babies, are nervous as they get ready to go home with their baby. They know that theyre really on their own.

    The fi rst few weeks at home with your baby will be both rewarding and challenging, as you learn more about one another. Give your family time to get to know its newest member. It usually takes at least three months or so to get settled. Youll be creating new routines for your whole family. All of this takes time, and energy, so its no wonder youll feel tired at the end of the day. You may also feel overwhelmed in your new role as a parent. Youll probably have lots of questions about your baby and how to care for him. Remember, youre not alone. Your babys doctor, friends and family, and even baby care books can help you fi nd the answers you need. When you know more about how to care for your baby, you can relax and enjoy every minute with him. And youll want to treasure every momentyour baby will never be this tiny again.

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    Bonding with your baby

    While your baby was in the NICU, you might have felt like it was diffi cult to really feel close to him, or to show him how much you love him. Some parents of premature babies are afraid theyve missed out on bonding with their baby. While this may be a normal feeling, its really not the case. Thats because every time youre with your baby, youre bonding with him. So now that youre home together, youll fi nd each time you smile at your baby, hold him, talk to him, or just look at him, the bond shared by just the two of you is growing stronger. This bonding will continue throughout your babys lifetime, and plays a key role in helping your baby develop to his full potential.

    Its easy to encourage bondingjust play with and enjoy your baby! Interact with him as much as you can. Its fi ne to treat your premature baby just as you would a full-term infant. Sometimes, parents think their preemies are more fragile than full-term babies. They may be extra cautious, or too indulgent, or even too attached. Of course, your baby is the most special baby in the whole world! But treat him just as you would any baby, so you dont interfere with his normal development.

    Baby talk

    Even though it will be some time before you hear your babys fi rst words, youll still be amazed at how quickly the two of you learn to communicate with each other. He may be very tiny, but he can still let you know what he wants and needs. As you watch your babys body language, youll see that hes extremely sensitive to the world around him. At fi rst, your baby will sleep most of the time. But when hes awake and alert, hes ready to communicate with you.

    When your baby wants your attention, youll notice:

    His eyes are wide open

    Hell look at you, look away, then look at you again

    His breathing is relaxed

    His arms and legs will be slightly bent and relaxed

    He may put his hands together, or bring his fi sts to his mouth

    When your baby has had too much stimulation, he may:

    Fuss and cry

    Stiffen his arms and legs

    Arch his back

    Shut his eyes, look away from you, or turn his head away

    Fall asleep

    Whenever your baby seems tired, let him rest. Quietly hold him without talking ormoving, or lay him down. Babies can handle only one activity at a time. If your baby seems stressed, try to relax with him. Hell let you know when hes ready to play again.

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  • While your baby is tiny, hes very aware of his surroundings.

    4 5

    How your preemie baby may behave

    Your preemie will most likely do all of the things that all babies doit just may takehim a little longer. If hes like most NICU babies, he came home even before his original due date. That means he has some catching up to do when it comes to acting like afull-term baby. While your baby is tiny, hes very aware of his surroundings. He just doesnt have the same communication skills as an older infant. For the fi rst few weeks at home, it may be hard to guess how hes going to behave. But, after a short time, youll be able to predict his reactions and responseshis behavior will become part of your routine.

    Helping your baby learn

    Youve watched your baby try to get his hand to his mouthover and over again, and without much success! Its not that your baby isnt graceful. Its just that his nervous system isnt fully developed, and his movements arent smooth and coordinated. But your baby is eager to learn. You can help him by:

    Holding him so youre supporting his head and body, but leave his arms and legs free. Let him kick with his legs and wave his arms. This helps build his muscles.

    Gently playing with your baby by slowly moving his arms and legs.

    Talking to your baby in a warm, enthusiastic voice. When he senses your love,hell be excited to learn even more.

    Placing your baby on his tummy to play. Do this as often as possible. Youll notice that as he gets older, hell practice raising his head up off the crib mattress. However, never place your baby on his tummy to sleep.

    Encouraging him to lift his head by coming close to him with your head above his. Talk gently to him. Hell want to look at you and will probably try to lift his head.

    Babys breathing

    Your babys breathing patterns can change rapidly without warning. To learn whats normal for your baby, you may want to follow these tips:

    Count how many times he takes a breath each minute.

    Watch his chest as he breathes while resting, playing, crying, and while hes upset. This can help you identify his moods.

    Listen to the noises he makes as he breathes.

    You can become more familiar with your babys behavior so that it will be easier to recognize when hes acting differently. Remember, if youre ever concerned about his breathing or color,call his doctor right away.

    LB2438_SpecialNewborn_Vol2_07_10.indd 4-5 7/9/10 8:23 AM

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    Sleep tight

    Babies sleepa lot. In fact, your baby will probably sleep more than anything else during his fi rst weeks at homesometimes 15 to 22 hours a day. Some babies have trouble adjusting from the bright lights and noisy NICU to a more peaceful environment, like their own rooms at home. If your baby has trouble sleeping, youmay want to try these tips to help him drift off to dream land:

    Use a night light and try playing soft music in the background.

    Over a period of several days, slowly turn down the extra noise and light, helping him adjust to his new home.

    Try not to play with your baby when feeding him at night. Hell learn that evenings are for sleeping and eating, instead of for playing.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleeping. Based on information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), this is the safest position for your baby.1 Always place your baby on his back to sleep during the fi rst year of life, unless his doctor tells you to place him in a different position for sleeping. For more important information on reducing the risk of SIDS, visit www.aap.org.

    Understanding your babys cries

    Crying is one of the ways your baby communicates with you. He can let you know if hes hungry, or tired, or needs a diaper change. The trick is learning when your baby is crying from hunger, pain, or another reason. Youll soon be able to tell what your baby needs just by his cries. Sometimes your baby may be crying for no reasonhes just had a meal, a nap, and a fresh diaper. Most babies have fussy periods now and then. This kind of crying seems to help them get rid of extra energy so they can become more relaxed and content.

    The best way to handle your babys crying is to go to him right away when he cries, especially during the fi rst few months. You cant spoil your baby by giving him attention. In fact, if you answer his calls for help, you may fi nd hell cry less overall.

    Comforting your crying baby

    Babies cry for lots of reasons, and parents try to fi gure out what it will take to comfort them. Try some of these tips:

    Offer a feeding. Premature babies will need frequent, small feedings, and will need to be fed around the clock.

    Whether youre breastfeeding or formula-feeding, feed your baby in a calm, quiet place. Too much noise or activity can ove