Friday, May 30, 2008

Favorite Product Friday #13

This week my favorite product is the Leap Frog Learn and Groove Table.

I've always liked these tables for my preemies because they come at a good height when kids are learning to stand but can also be used to encourage tummy time. I particularly like this one because it plays a lot of jazzy type music (that doesn't give me a headache - always a bonus) and has a variety of things to push, move or open. My daughter is a big fan of options so this toy suits her well.

Here are some suggestions for using this toy to help foster development with your preemie.

Tummy time - Just like most other tables, this one allows you to remove the legs. Take the front two off and then you can create a great toy to get your preemie on his/her tummy and hopefully not fighting it as much.

Sitting - Take the legs off completely and let your preemie play with this toy while he/she is learning to sit (or feeling stable sitting but not ready to try standing).

Crawling - You can use this toy as a motivator to get your preemie crawling (if that's what he/she needs to get moving).

Learning to stand - The height on this one seems to work well for my daughter. It keeps her interested so she can practice learning how to stand up. The other great thing about this table is that it can help her learn how to go from a squat position to standing. She has a hard time with this transition and other tables/blocks/etc haven't motivated her like this one or have been too tall to make it easy.

Fine motor - Obviously the various buttons and other fun stuff make this a great toy to encourage fine motor development. Once your preemie starts being able to move the objects, encourage him/her to do specific things with each part of the table.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Developmental Wednesday #9 (On Thursday)

Things have been crazy here so many apologies for the delayed post.

This week's developmental information is focused on preemies who are 3-5 months old. In the past I did a post with similar information for preemies who are 0-2 months.

Here are developmental milestones you may start to see at this age:

Large Motor

  • Keeps head in line with his/her body when pulled to sitting from lying down
  • Rolls from stomach to back
  • On stomach, supports self on extended arms
  • Bears some weight on feet when held in a supported stand

Small Motor

  • Reaches for object and tries to grasp it
  • Will finger own hands at midline
  • Transfers toy from hand to hand
  • Shakes rattle purposely

Social/Play Skills

  • Looks at the object he/she is holding
  • Smiles or reaches to familiar people
  • Smiles or laughs during physical play

Communications

  • Turns eyes or head in the direction of voices or sound
  • Vocalizes when talked to or sung to
  • Uses different cries to indicate what he/she wants

Ways to Optimize Your Baby's Development

  • Change your preemie's positions during play time - on tummy, sitting (supported at first and then independently) or lying on back
  • Offer toys/objects that your preemie has to reach to get - this will encourage rolling over
  • Continue talking, singing, and laughing with your preemie
  • Bring your preemie's hands together at the center of his/her body and let him/her bring hands to mouth.
  • Let your preemie explore toys by mouthing them (if they are willing to). If your preemie doesn't like to actively mouth things then gently place a textured toy (like a ring) on your preemie's lips and see what he/she does. Slowly over time your preemie may accept it more and be willing to do it him/herself.
  • Shake a rattle (and help your preemie do it themselves) to hear the noise and get a response.
  • Encourage banging, tapping or any type of noise making

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Case of Emergency

Obviously every parent hopes to avoid the late night rush the Emergency Room or the panicked call to 911. With a preemie the chance of this happening is even higher than normal. It helps to be as prepared as possible - it will make it easier on the emergency personnel and you. Here are some tips to be as prepared in case you do have to call 911 or go to the emergency room:

1) Medical Information: In a previous post I talked about keeping medical information organized and together in one place. The best time it will come in handy is during an emergency when people need medical information and you are probably too frazzled/busy/tired to remember it all. Keeping a binder updated and ready is a great tool to ensure that emergency personnel know everything that they need to in order to give proper medical care. The key here is to make sure your binder is updated - especially the medicine information.

2) Fire Department - If your preemie has respiratory issues, call your fire department when you bring your preemie home. Let them know that your preemie has respiratory issues/is on oxygen/etc, so that if you have to call 911 they will come prepared with a pediatric oxygen mask. The fire department is often the first on the scene so it's really helpful for them to know in advance what they might be facing. Our fire department keeps a board with this type of information so they noted our address and our daughter's condition when we called.

3) Know what you know - I'm sure people have told you this - you know your child the best. This is absolutely true. Take confidence in that fact and make sure you assert yourself during an emergency if need be. Our daughter is a fast breather naturally so whenever I have had to take her to the after-hours clinic, I always make sure that they know what her baseline breathing/heart rate is so that they can make a diagnosis off of that.

4) Equipment - If your preemie requires specific equipment - oxygen, feeding pump, etc. make sure that you let the medical staff know. For visits to the ER, bring that equipment with you because you don't know how long you'll wait so it is always best to be prepared. Bring whatever medicine you will need for the next few hours as well as any food or formula.

5) Diaper Bag - Try and keep your diaper bag packed and ready all the time so that you can grab it on a moments notice. A couple of toys and/or snacks will go a long way towards keeping your child entertained during a long wait at the ER.

6) Siblings - if you have other siblings, call a neighbor, friend or family (someone who can get there fast) to watch them so they don't have to go with you to the hospital. If they can't get there quickly, arrange to have someone pick up them up at the hospital.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Favorite Product Friday #12

This week's favorite product is the Little Tikes DiscoverSounds Boom Box.

My daughter got this toy at Christmas and she has loved it ever since. When you press the yellow button on the top it plays four (maybe five I can't remember) little songs that have a catchy beat along with flashing lights and a spinning wheel in the center. My daughter loves to dance to the music. The green "antenna" can be pushed and pulled up and down and the red dial can be spun around. There is also a plastic ball filled with beads that can be spun around and the musical note button makes funny sounds when you press it. The spinner in the center moves around and squeaks when you do spin it. Basically this is a compact toy with a lot of fun things to do with it.

Here are some ways to use it at various points in your preemie's development.

Watch this - Your preemie will love to watch the lights and spinning wheel so sit him/her down and press the button. This is a great toy if you have an older sibling too because they can "help" you show your preemie how it works.

Tummy time - If your preemie doesn't particularly care for tummy time, than this is a great toy to keep them occupied and entertained. Put the toy on one side or the other to encourage head turning. Place it in front of your preemie to encourage reaching with one hand or other other.

Movement - When your preemie is ready to start pivoting or crawling, place this toy just out reach and turn it on to encourage him/her to move towards it. This also works well when you want your preemie to pull to stand - put it on the table so they can go get it.

Cause and Effect/Fine Motor - Show your preemie how each of the buttons and dials work so that he/she can do it too. This is a great way to teach your preemie about cause and effect and work on their fine motor skills at the same time.

Have fun rockin' out with your preemie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

20 Ways to Calm your Crying Preemie (and You)

Sometimes your preemie will start crying and none of the usual tricks seem to be working. This can be very stressful for you and your preemie. Here are some ways to try and get your preemie to calm down and to help you cope with the crying:

1. Walk around the house with your preemie. If he/she is on oxygen, hook up the portable tank so you can go as far as you want without worrying up tubing.
2. Dance with your preemie. Put on some music and dance around the room/house. Make sure you make big body movements so your preemie will feel it.
3. Bounce your preemie gently in your arms. For both of my preemies I would hold them close and then go up and down as low/high as I could so they could really experience it.
4. Go for a walk in the stroller - sometimes the movement and/or change of scenery will help your preemie calm down.
5. Go for a ride in the car.
6. Put your preemie in an electronic swing
7. Turn up some music, run the vacuum or let the water run in the tub for a few minutes. When my daughter is too tired to sleep, running the water helps her calm down and fall asleep.
8. Offer your preemie a noisy toy like a rattle. Shake it so he/she can hear it. Sometimes the change in noise is just enough of a distraction to allow you to calm him/her down.
9. Sing or talk to your preemie in a quiet, sing-song voice. Sing easy songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Row Your Boat, etc. I've also found that if I'm going to be singing for awhile it's helpful to do songs like Old McDonald, The Wheels On The Bus and If Your Happy And You Know it because they can go on for a long time as you add on new animals, etc. If you're talking and run out of things, start going over your to do list or anything that will keep you talking.
10. Memorize a couple of short baby books so that you can quietly repeat them to your preemie. My go to books are Goodnight Moon, I am a bunny and Runaway Bunny. This is helpful if you are so stressed that you don't want to/just can't think of calming things to say/talk about. It lets your mind go on auto pilot for a minute or two.
11. Put your preemie in a baby carrier or sling and walk around the house. Being close to you will often help your preemie settle down. Sometimes if you bounce up and down as you walk this can help calm your preemie down as well.
12. Lay your preemie down across your lap and gently rub or tap his/her back.
13. Put your preemie against your chest and gently pat his/her bottom or back.
14. Give your preemie a massage.
15. Swaddle your preemie tightly if he/she is small enough.
16. Feed and/or burp your preemie one more time, just in case
17. If you use one, offer a pacifier or your finger. If your preemie is really upset, you may need to hold it at his/her mouth until he/she is calmed down enough to take it.
18. Hold your preemie close to you and breathe slowly and calmly, sometimes your preemie may just need to feel your calmness
19. Remove yourself from the situation and let someone else take over. If you're home alone - call someone. Your husband/wife, family member, friend, neighbor. Anyone that you trust that is available to come over long enough to give you a break.
20. If NOTHING works, than put your preemie down in his/her bed or a swing and leave the room. Check back at least every 15 minutes.

Developmental Wednesday #8

This week's developmental post is dedicated to the topic of object permanence. Developmental therapists, child books or magazines all talk about this issue. Newborns and young babies have no concept that a person, toy or book can exist even if he/she can't see it. Around 8 months, your baby will start to look around for an object that you have hidden - or will cry if you leave the room. This is a great developmental milestone that you can work on with your preemie. Here are some ways to help your preemie look for hidden objects:

1. Peek-A-Boo - Obviously this is a favorite game for almost all babies. In the beginning your preemie will be excited just by the fact that every time you "disappear", you come back. Once your preemie has mastered the basic idea, try peeking out from the left or right side of your hands too.

2. Hidden Object, Part 1 - Once you think that your preemie is getting ready to look for a hidden object, start by placing a blanket over part of a toy. Leave enough exposed so that your preemie can still see the object. This way he/she will realize that the toy is there but they start to get the idea of removing the blanket to see the whole thing.

3. Hidden Object, Part2 - After your preemie has mastered the first part, start covering the entire toy and encourage your preemie to find it. Slowly over time, he/she will get the idea and will pull the blanket off to find it.

4. Hidden Object, Part 3 - The next thing you can do is to use a small object and put it under a cup, bucket or box and have them look for it.

5. Hidden Object, Part 4 - After that, take two similar boxes or cups and place an object under one of the items. Make sure your preemie sees you put it under one of the cups and then encourage him/her to find it. In the beginning he/she will probably pick up both cups and then slowly they will pick up the one that has the hidden object.

6. Rolling an Object - Once your preemie has mastered the concept of looking for a hidden object, you can start using a ball or car (something that rolls). Put a book or box in the path of the car or ball. Roll the ball or car behind the box or book and see if your preemie follows the path of the moving object.

Tip: When you are hiding items, try to use a bland or uninteresting blanket, cup, etc. so that your preemie doesn't get distracted by the new thing if front of him/her.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Visiting the NICU

Once you bring your preemie(s) home, it's natural to want to visit the NICU. It's your chance to thank all of the wonderful doctors, nurses, RTs, etc. that helped your baby, you can say hi to people who became like friends over time and show off how well your preemie is doing. Most NICUs want you to come back and visit - heck, I've had doctors and nurses demand it. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to make your visit a successful one.

Pick a good time - Call and find out the best time to come for a visit. Although the nurses and doctors are always busy, there are certain times of the day that are less hectic so try and plan a visit during that time. This will give more people a chance to see you and visit with your family. Remember shift changes - you don't want to be stuck in the waiting area for a shift to change.

Who you want to visit - If there are a few doctors and nurses that you really want to see, call ahead and find out if they are working. You won't be able to hit everyone all at once but if you can see a few favorites or primaries than you'll feel even better about the visit.

Set expectations for yourself - Visiting the NICU after your baby has gone home can be a bit hard. Just being there can bring back a flood of memories and emotions that you might not be expecting. Keep in mind that everyone is busy working so they may only get to spend a few minutes with you - don't' take it personally! Depending on how long your preemie was in the NICU, you may have to remind them who you are. Again, don't take it personally - they take care of a lot of babies.

Bring a recent photo - NICUs love to celebrate their successes so bring a picture or two of your preemie. That way they can hang it in the break room for everyone to see.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Favorite Product Friday #11

This week's favorite product is the Fisher Price Lil’ Laugh & Learn™ Kick & Feel Musical Farm Friends™


My daughter absolutely fell in love with this toy when we received it as a gift. I love the bright colors, adorable farm animals and the not-as-annoying-as-some songs that are activated when your preemie kicks or touches the animal's feet. This is also a great toy because you can use it at several points of development.

Here are some suggestions for using this toy to help foster development:
Kicking - Hang this toy on your preemie's crib and put him/her in there near enough that his/her feet will kick the toy. This is a great way to encourage kicking as your preemie will get excited by the songs and noise that happen when he/she kicks the toy.
Tummy Time - I have used this toy to help encourage my daughter to pivot and crawl. By placing this toy on the ground just out of reach, my daughter will start to move and reach towards the animals in order to hear the songs. There are several settings so if she gets bored by one of them, I switch to another so she gets excited again.
Textures - This toy has various textures on it so your preemie can have fun touching and experiencing the different fabric. The animal's feet are smooth satin, the clouds are a soft, fluffy material, the sun is hard plastic and the rest is soft cotton. Help your preemie feel each part and comment about how each one feels different.
High Chair Play - Sometimes you need your little one to hang out in his/her high chair while you cook dinner, clean, etc. This is a great toy because it fits across the entire tray and will happily entertain your preemie so that you can get a few things done.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

March of Dimes Fundraiser

Hey everyone, I wanted to let you know about a national March of Dimes fundraiser.

The artist Bettina is donating ten cents from every download of her new single “Cradle To The Grave – A Song About Family" to the March of Dimes. Her goddaughter is a preemie so she is doing it in honor of her. The song costs 99 cents to download so it's a fun and inexpensive way to give back to the March of Dimes. I know that iTunes allows you to listen to 30 seconds of the song if you want to get a feel for how it sounds.

I actually did not know who she was so I looked up her website. Apparently she has been doing voiceover for years. She was the voice of Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Alisa on the Rugrats, and has recorded over 20 Disney children’s records including Minnie & Me. You also hear her everyday singing the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It jingle. Her first single, “She Is” won American Idol Underground and hit #4 on the Billboard Hot Singles Charts in 2007 – 2008. This spring she’s opening for Smashmouth and this summer she’ll be opening for Gretchen Wilson.

Enjoy the song and the opportunity to support such a great cause!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Developmental Wednesday #7

Today's developmental post is about singing. I know most people (myself included) don't consider themselves to be a "good singer." The good news is that it doesn't matter if you should be singing on the radio or if you don't ever hit the right note. Your preemie will think that your singing is great no matter what. And singing is a great way to foster development and have fun with your preemie.

Here are some suggestions on how to bring singing into your daily routine with your preemie:

Calming - Preemies can often be calmed down when their parent or caregiver sings to them. Find a song that your preemie likes and sing it whenever your preemie is fussy or needs to be distracted while you do something that he/she doesn't like. My daughter will instantly calm down if we sing Twinkle Little Star and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Slow Down - When you are singing to your preemie, slow down so that he/she can really hear the words. The wheels on the bus go round...and....round. Going slowly also gives your preemie a chance to "sing" with you.

Actions/Gestures - If you are singing a song about body parts - point to them as your sing. When you sing "The Wheels On The Bus" song, act out each part. This helps engage your preemie and get him/her really interested in what you are singing about.

Doing everyday things - You can make anything into a song. If you are taking your preemie's socks off you can sing - Taking Anna's socks off, we're taking Anna's socks off, socks off, socks off. You can encourage your preemie to do something like tap his/her toys together - tap, tap, tap your toys, tap your toys together. Whatever works for you. Whatever tune you want.

Routine - Pick a song to sing in the morning, at nap time or nighttime. Creating a routine that includes a song is a nice way to incorporate singing and helps you connect with your preemie.

Good luck and happy singing!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Closing the PDA

Many preemies often face an issue with their Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

The PDA is a blood vessel that connects the main vessel leading to the lungs to the main vessel of the body. When babies are in the womb, this blood vessel is open because babies aren't using their lungs to breathe so it allows most of the blood to bypass the lungs and go to the rest of the body. Once babies are born, the blood vessel will gradually narrow and then close after a few hours or days. In preemies, especially those who have had respiratory distress syndrome, the blood vessel may stay open.

Doctors may suspect that a preemie has a PDA if a preemie:

  • needs more oxygen or help breathing when s/he should be needing less
  • his/her breathing is more difficult or there is much more apnea
  • the doctor or nurse hears a murmur (an abnormal noise over the heart)
  • the baby's heart rate increases and/or the pulse changes

If a doctor suspects a PDA, they will give your preemie an echocardiogram to determine the amount of blood flow through the PDA. The echocardiagram is pretty fast - it looks like your baby is getting an ultrasound.

The doctors have several options for how to treat a PDA. They are:

  • Wait. If the PDA is very small with only a tiny amount of blood flowing through it, doctors may decide to wait and see if it closes on its own.
  • Medicine. Indomethacin is the most common drug used to try and close a PDA. It can affect some of your preemie's other organs so they use the smallest dose possible. Some doctors use ibuprofen.
  • Surgery. If the PDA doesn't close with medicine (or on its own), then they will need to do surgery to close the PDA.

Hearing that your baby needs heart surgery can be very scary and nerve wracking. Here are some questions to ask if your preemie needs surgery:

  • What are the potential complications? Some preemies have had their vocal cord affected by this surgery.
  • How long does it typically take? It's always nice to know how long a surgery is supposed to last however there may always be extra time if something is delayed. Ask if a nurse or someone else can come and tell you if there is a delay so you aren't worried unnecessarily.
  • Where do they do the surgery? Some NICUs are equipped to have the surgery done at your baby's isolette. Others require the baby to be transferred to another hospital.
  • What do they do during the surgery? Ask the cardiac specialist to explain the procedure to you so that you understand what is being done
  • What are the long term effects, if any?

Our experience with PDA issues
Both of our kids had PDAs. We were told our son would need surgery because he was only able to handle 1/2 dose of the indomethacin and the PDA was still open. After spending a long night worrying about the next day's transfer and surgery - we went to the NICU the next morning and after one last echo, they found that the PDA had closed on it's own. The doctors aren't sure how it happened but we were so happy and relieved. With our daughter, they came in to my hospital room on her 2nd day and told us that her PDA was very open and she was too small to receive the indomethacin so surgery was a necessity. She was the smallest patient that our heart surgeon had operated on so that added a bit of extra stress. Thankfully all went well and with the exception of a scar on her back, you would never know she had it done.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms in the world today. Whether your baby is in the NICU or at home - I hope you get a chance to celebrate and enjoy your little miracles!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Favorite Product Friday #10

This week's favorite product is the Baby Bjorn Soft Bib.


My mom bought me this bib and I fell in love with the after the first use. You're probably thinking really? Aren't all bibs the same? I would have to say no. My daughter has a lot of oral feeding issues as a result of being fed entirely through a feeding tube for many months. The concept of drinking from a bottle or putting anything in her mouth for any reason beyond checking it out has been long forgotten. So when we started trying out solids it was a huge mess because my daughter doesn't open her mouth no matter how hard you try (or how foolish you look). This means that the practically liquid food ends up everywhere. I had tried the flat plastic bibs but they didn't do anything compared to the Baby Bjorn Soft Bib.

This bib is nice because while it is soft - it keeps its shape so the little "bowl/shelf" at the bottom catches all the food that slides right off of the spoon. I also like it because it is very easy to wash. You just have to rinse it and all the food just slides right off. It also dries faster than its plastic counterparts. The adjustable neck is nice too because it will grow with your preemie.

Even if you preemie is eating well and opens his/her mouth nicely, I would still recommend this bib because kids will always be kids and somehow food ends up everywhere but their mouth.

Happy eating!

Zutano Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to ihchicky who said:

"They really do make lovely clothes. I'd love to win this set. Please count my name in the draw. Thank you so much."

ihchicky, please email me your address at lifeinthenicu@gmail.com

Thank you to everyone who entered - I wish I could give clothes to all of you. I hope to have more giveaways in the future so check back often! Your comments have given me some new ideas for projects and features for the blog that I hope to get started in the coming weeks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zutano Giveaway - Last Day to Enter

Don't forget: if you haven't already entered the Zutano Giveaway, leave a comment today by midnight PST to try and win some adorable preemie clothes. Please enter your name when leaving a comment so we know who you are!

A regular preemie post will come later today. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Developmental Wednesday #6

Reading your baby's signs/cues

Preemies can easily become stressed or overstimulated - especially when they are in a new environment or surrounded by a lot of people (familiar or unfamiliar). Once you recognize your own preemie's signs of stress and over stimulation, you can help him/her calm down and reorganize. For example, our daughter gets over stimulated in large crowds and when she does she simply stares at everything with no expression and breathes with her mouth open. Being able to help your preemie calm down, can go along way towards helping him/her interact better.

If your preemie is getting overstimulated or stressed, he/she may:

  • Turn his/her body or face away from you
  • Arch his/her neck and back
  • Cry or fuss more than usual
  • Start having rapid-shallow breathing
  • Avoid looking at you or shut his/her eyes
  • Spit up
  • Hiccup and then cough
  • Change color
  • Straighten his/her arms out to the side
  • Withdraw

You can try one of the following techniques (or something that works for your preemie) to try and help him/her reorganize and calm down. Note the emphasis on trying one technique - you don't want to further stimulate your preemie by doing several things at once. This is an important thing to talk about with family or other caregivers. People tend to naturally talk to a baby, while they rock them and smile or look at them. This can often be too much for a preemie. It's a hard concept to learn but easy to fix once people are aware of the situation.

  • Give your preemie some quiet time - put your preemie in his/her crib or just let your preemie play by him/herself. Don't force any toys or other noises on your preemie - he/she just needs time to relax and reorganize.
  • Place your hand on his/her chest
  • Talk to him in a soft voice
  • Gently rock him/her in a cradled position
  • Let him/her suck on his/her hand, your finger, or a pacifier
  • Stay quiet and look away from him/her - sometimes eye contact is too much for a preemie
  • Hold your preemie's hands so he/she is grasping your thumbs and slowly bring his/her arms folded close to his/her chest
  • Change your preemie's position - if he/she is on his/her tummy, put him/her on his/her back or vice versa.
  • Just like in the NICU, place one hand on his/her head and the other at his/his feet to help get him/her into a "tuck" position

Tip: if you're with a group of people who just "don't get it" when it comes to the issue of over stimulation or you need to try and quickly help your preemie before a full on melt down you can: tell people you want to check his/her diaper and then go somewhere quiet to help your preemie, say that you need some mommy time with your little one and gently take your preemie back to help him/her calm down, tell them he/she looks tired and needs to rest. Anything that works for you!

Once you start to recognize the signs of stress and over stimulation in your preemie, you can quickly try and help your preemie with whatever technique works best for him/her.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Announcing Your Preemie

When babies are born full-term, parents normally send out birth announcements to family and friends as soon as possible. While preemie parents are just as excited to tell people about their new addition to the family, there are often other factors to consider before sending out an announcement. If your preemie is sick, fragile, small, etc. a lot of parents decide to wait until they know for sure their preemie is going to "be okay."

Here are tips and ideas for sending out your own announcements:

  • Send out a homecoming announcement instead of a birth announcement. Since both of our preemies started out so small and had a variety of issues, we wanted to wait until we were sure they were stable and coming home before sending something out.

  • If you send out a birth announcement you can also follow it up with a homecoming announcement - both events are both worth announcing and celebrating!

  • Find an announcement style that allows you to show several pictures of your preemie. Preemies change so much from when they are first born to when they come home that it's nice to show the transition. It's a great way to celebrate just how much your preemie has overcome in the days, weeks, months since being born. I like the Shutterfly Classic White design as it allows you to include a nice amount of photos and text on the front.

  • If you do a homecoming announcement, include your preemie's birth weight/height/weeks early as well as his/her current weight/height/days in the NICU

  • Tip: Sending out an announcement is also a great time to remind people that your preemie is still fragile and can't be around too many visitors at once.
  • In today's digital world, you can make most birth announcements work for your preemie however if you are looking for something preemie specific, here are a few places that offer preemie birth announcements: NICU101, Blooming Inspiration, and My Kids Inspiration.

Don't forget: if you haven't entered the Zutano Giveaway, leave a comment before Thursday at midnight PST to try and win some adorable preemie clothes. Please enter your name when leaving a comment so we know who you are!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Favorite Product #9 + A Giveaway!

This week's favorite product post is devoted to the Zutano Itsy Bitsy line. If you've ever seen Zutano clothes or even just their ads, you know that they offer a variety of items in bold, bright colors with modern designs every kid (and adult) will love. Many people don't know that they also have a line of clothes for preemies - called the Itsy Bitsy line. Although the tag says "newborn," they are made for babies up to 8 lbs. and up to 18 inches long.


The clothes offer some features that are ideal for preemies - the onesies and shirts have snaps on the side so that tubes and wires can feed through and nurses can easily open and close them for quick access. The necklines overlap so it is easy to get them on and off. I appreciate the fact that these clothes are designed to be long and lean - making them look less baggy on a little one so you can feel like the clothes fit properly. The clothes are made of 100% cotton and are really soft which I think is a definite plus when it comes to preemie clothes. My daughter has very sensitive skin so I am always on the lookout for fun clothes that are soft and wearable.


Zutano offers the Itsy Bitsy line in "families" and each print also has a coordinating solid or stripe so you can easily mix and match items. Each family has a kimono top, a long-sleeve onesie, a short-sleeve onesie, a gown, leggings, caps, and a short-sleeve dresses (for the girl lines). Soon they will offer a gown with mitten cuffs and a footie in each family. I love when clothes have mix and match options because it makes it much easier to change a onesie or pants when you're out and about and your preemie won't look like you dressed him/her in the dark.

Ready for some even better news? (beyond cute new preemie clothes to buy) Zutano sent me some of their Itsy Bitsy clothes and I am going to give them away to one lucky reader. They sent me the Helicopter collection - two onesies, one kimono shirt, two pairs of pants, two hats and one gown. There is some serious cuteness going on with this collection. Although helicopters and planes are normally for boys - the green and blue are so bright and cheerful that I wouldn't have minded putting my daughter in these cute clothes. This collection would also make a great gift for a baby shower or another family whose baby is in the NICU.

How do you enter? Easy. Just leave a comment below (on this post) by Thursday, May 8th at midnight PST and I'll select a winner by random draw. You can leave any comment you want from "I hope I win" to suggestions for future posts. I'll post the winner in the morning on Friday, May 9th. Good luck!


If you just can't wait to get your preemie in these cute clothes or want to buy more - these stores sell the Zutano Itsy Bitsy line.

Bugs and Blossoms
ComfyKid.com
BabySuperMall.com

Zutano also offers clothes for bigger kids so check on their site for some serious shopping fun.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sharing A Moment

One of the best ways to interact with your preemie and really work on his/her development is to share moments. The way you share a moment can change and grow as your preemie becomes more interactive and vocal. Here are ideas to help you share a moment with your preemie.

Face to face - get up close with your preemie and play with him/her. If you are holding your preemie - put your face close to him/her and sing or talk. It doesn't have to be anything important.

Imitate - wait and see what your preemie does and then imitate him or her. If he/she puts a block in a container than you can do the same. This can also work in reverse - especially when you are working on a particular part of development. For example, we are trying to get our daughter to clap so first I start to clap slowly and then stop. Sometimes she will then clap in response.

Interpret - Try to interpret what your preemie is trying to tell you or show you. If he/she points at the swings than say "Swings." Or if they point or gesture at a flower say "Pretty flower." This will also help your preemie start to link words with objects.

Comment - Another great way to interact is to comment on what they are doing. If you are outside and your preemie touches the grass, say "the grass is wet" or "the grass is green."

Take turns - When you are playing, make sure you encourage turn taking. If you put a block in the container, stop and say "your turn" and wait for your preemie to try and do the same (or gently help him/her drop the block in the container. As your preemie gets older, you can play simple games that require turn taking to help reinforce the concept. In the beginning it may seem silly to take a turn (most adults don't really want a turn) but it really is helpful for your preemie.

Ask questions - What is your dolly going to wear? Do you want the red block or the blue block? Is the apple yummy? Any question that encourages interaction and sharing is a good place to start.

Have fun sharing a moment with your preemie!