Early stimulation in premature babies is very important for the good development of the baby. To work with them, we must know the corrected age of the child, that is, the date on which he should have been born and not on which he was born. With this date we will determine at what stage of development the baby is.
It is important to know this because we will meet babies who have spent the first months of life in the hospital and, when we work with them, they should not have been born yet.
Do you want to know why early stimulation is important in premature babies and what benefits it has? We will tell you everything below.
What does it mean that a baby is premature?
A premature baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. But there are also those who are born before week 30, or their weight is below 1.5 kg. The latter are the ones that will need the most early stimulation; their evolution will be more complicated, since they have not been able to mature all their organs at the right time.
What is early stimulation in premature babies?
Early stimulation is a set of activities, exercises, and techniques that are intended for children who do or do not have developmental delays. These techniques, which include play, try to help, strengthen and develop their full potential.
With this, we will help and accompany children in their development, without forcing anything to advance them. For example, if a 6-month-old is supposed to be able to stay seated, what we will do is accompany and guide him to achieve this in a correct way; we will help him.
Importance of early stimulation in premature babies
Children who are born prematurely have to mature outside the womb, and therefore experience delayed development, maturity and growth. We will have to talk about the “chronological age”, which is the date on which he was born, and the “corrected date”, which is the date on which he should have been born. The latter is the one that we have to take into account when evolving his development.
Early stimulation has enormous benefits in the development of the premature baby. Let’s see some of them:
- Massages that are included as an activity in early stimulation help children improve their weight, height, irritability, and sociability.
- Early stimulation will allow us to discover, more quickly, if there are developmental disorders or future learning problems.
- Increased quality of life, since the stimulation that it provides is the greatest possible development of all the capacity that there is in the central nervous system of the child.
- It will also prevent cognitive, psychological, social, and motor disturbances.
- The parent-child bond will be improved and strengthened.
- All of these activities promote the child’s mental, social, and physical abilities.
Types of exercises for early stimulation in premature babies
The early stimulation exercises in premature babies have to take the child globally, this means that we have to work with them in all areas of their development, and do it in a coordinated way by all the professionals who intervene. The exercises can be included in 4 areas of development:
Techniques such as telling a story are used here, and different tones of voice are used, making animal sounds. The music is very important in this area as it has been shown that the music enhances cognitive development of the child.
The exercises used in this area are focused on enhancing physical, communicative and mental capacity, and on promoting the capacities of the central nervous system. Here the game is widely used as a form of stimulation.
In front of the child, movements are made with the mouth, nose, eyebrows, eyes … In this way; he will recognize the different expressions on the face. Everything we can think of, like sticking out our tongues, puffing our cheeks, singing … so that the baby can see the vocalization.
Affective and emotional development
Parents play an important role here. Physical contact with the baby is necessary; these will hug and give much love to the little one. It is also important to interact with the baby by looking and smiling at him, calling him by name and look him in the eyes, etc.
As the child grows, the exercises adapt to the rhythm of the child. It is important to keep in mind that each child has a different rhyme and that it must be respected; we should not force anything, especially in a premature baby, since its development is slower.
So, you already know a little about the importance of early stimulation in premature babies, what benefits it has and what are the most used exercises in early care.