When Should Preemies Meet Developmental Milestones?

You may worry often worry about whether your preemie is meeting developmental milestones on time, but take heart; most premature babies meet developmental milestones within normal ranges for their corrected ages.

Corrected age is calculated by subtracting the number of weeks premature he or she was born from your baby's actual age in weeks. So if your baby was born 3 months premature, he would be expected at 9 months old to be meeting developmental milestones for a 6 month-old born full-term. 

Learn when your baby should meet specific milestones, what babies might meet milestones later than others when to worry, and what you can do to help your baby.


When Should Preemies Learn to Sit Up?

Baby sitting up on floor
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Say goodbye to stacking pillows around your baby to cushion falls. Learning to sit up is one of the first developmental milestones that preemies meet. Most preemies will learn to sit up during the middle of the first year, but babies with many health problems of prematurity may sit up later than their peers.

Rolling over is an important step to learning how to sit up. You don't have to force it, but be mindful of opportunities for your child to try to move laterally

Play games with him or her to get them to move more. Eventually, they will use these skills to learn to sit up.


When Should Preemies Learn to Walk?

A baby learning to walk.
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Get your cameras ready! During the first half of the second year of life, your preemie should learn to walk. Some parents of preemies may have to wait longer for this preemie developmental milestone, and some preemies may need extra help when learning to walk. This milestone is dependent on just how regularly baby gets the chance to move around freely. If your child's movement was restricted for a long period of time, they meet this milestone later than most. Encourage free play, and tummy time to help them learn head control, and strengthen their torso. While crawling may come in between, these two are the building blocks to raising a healthy walker.


When Should Preemies Learn to Talk?

Talking to your baby will help him learn to talk.
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From "babababa" to calling Mom or Dad by name, it's fun to listen as babies learn to talk.

This is one developmental milestone that preemies may meet a little bit before their full term peers since they've been exposed to the language for longer.

Other preemies may need a little help in learning to communicate well. This is one of those developmental milestones that will depend heavily on how much you communicate with your baby and have them around others who do the same. Reading books daily, singing songs, and dancing are all ways to support language in your preemie.

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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Preemie milestones. Updated November 2019.