Every parent wonders from time to time if their child is developmentally on track, but parents of premature children may have serious concerns that their child is delayed. They will see their friends’ children of the same age taking their first steps when their own child is just beginning to crawl. So how does a parent know if there is truly a problem? Are there different developmental milestones for preemies?

What are developmental milestones?

Pediatricians use developmental milestones as a guide to determine if children are developing along a path similar to other children their age. They look for gross motor, fine motor, social, and language development. There are many variables to development in the first year, and each baby will follow his or her own path.

Appearances may be deceiving

Premature babies may appear delayed compared to other babies their age. For example, term babies will roll over around four months of age. A baby who was born two months early, however, may lag behind by two months and not roll over until closer to six months of age.

How do I know if my preemie is delayed?

Only your child’s pediatrician will be able to evaluate your preemie to see if there are true delays. Doctors will use your child’s corrected age, or the age your baby should be if he or she had been born on the due date, to determine if your child is meeting all milestones. Premature babies are at risk for delays, so if you have any concerns, be sure to bring it up to the pediatrician at your next visit.

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