Thursday, June 12, 2008

Developmental Wednesday #11

We were off celebrating our niece's graduation yesterday - in 97 degree heat. Thank goodness my two kiddos are such awesome troopers about stuff like that. And today was my birthday so yeah. Here is the developmental post of the week. Tomorrow I will post a favorite product as well as ways to give back to your local NICU.

We all do it. All the time. All parents have some tendency to compare or at least keep track of how "on target" their little ones are. For the parents of preemies, this is basically expected and almost encouraged. While keeping track and comparing how your preemie is doing compared to expected results or other children, try not to let it consume your worry. Once we start worrying about it too much, we start pushing too much. And that isn't good for anyone.

Depending on the level of services you are getting for your preemie, you will most likely be given certain things to "work on" with your preemie. My own personal experience has been that consistently working with a preemie on certain activities, developmental milestones, etc. works well. However, be careful that you aren't spending all your time just trying to get your preemie to the next milestone. Here are some tips to maximize the benefit of actively working on developmental milestones.

1) Think short vs. long - If you have a specific thing/activity/exercise that you want/need to work on with your preemie, try to do it for a short amount of concentrated time. For example, we are trying to get my daughter to squat down and then stand up again. I take about 5-10 minutes several times a day to work on that specific thing. She usually tells me when she has had enough and I try to honor those cues so that I don't stress or tire her out. Sometimes if you do something for a short amount of time your preemie will reap the benefit without getting too upset about it.

2) Frequent sessions - Try and do concentrated development time several times throughout the day. I usually try and take 5-10 minutes at least 3 times a day to do something specific with my daughter (vs. just play time). It's easier to fit 5 minutes a few times a day into your schedule rather than an hour each day.

3) Keep it fun. Use toys, singing, dancing, etc. to make your developmental therapy time fun and enjoyable for both of you. Involve older siblings in the activities as well. The more your preemie associates this time with fun than the more likely they are to keep doing it.

4) Walk away - sometimes either you or your preemie are just not into it at a certain time. If you find yourself (or your preemie) getting frustrated, crabby, cranky, etc. than stop and go do something else.

5) Try not to compare too much - this is hard to do but don't spend a lot of time comparing what your preemie is doing compared to other kids/other preemies/advice books. There are a lot of factors that go into development and it is important to really take that into account. Be tuned in to the specific progress your preemie is making, check with your doctor and use that as your guide.

6) Write it down - if you do have concerns about something specific that your preemie is or is not doing than write it down and take it with you to your next appointment. Once you have written it down (or called to talk to the doctor) try and let the worry go until you have spoken to your doctor and determined whether or not it is something to worry about. Hard to do but it really does help for overall mental health.

Coming soon: How to deal with family, friends and total strangers when it comes to your preemie's development.

1 comment:

aline said...

That is so true! I had a hard time not comparing our little preemie to other kids and what stage she was at compared to others. I'd find myself in competition mentally but I do have to say that it made me work harder to help my daugther achieve her milestones. I did however have to stop myself sometimes when I realised I was pushing too hard. In the end she took her own time with everything and met her goals according to her pace. Once I realised that, things became easier and I relaxed more about it!