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Infants » Newborn Development

Premie Development

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Dear Dr. Susan: 

I found your site on an “infant development” internet search. We have twin boys (13 months). We have been advised by their pediatrician not to worry about their lagging development. However, I wonder if at 11 months adjusted age, they should be doing more than rolling over and low crawling (on stomachs). Am I right to be concerned? The boys “can” sit unassisted, but they don’t like to, and will do so for only a very short period. Within a few minutes, they slump to the side or, if possible, roll on their tummies. Incidentally, one of the twins seems to frequently “sink his neck into his shoulders” when he sits for a while, as if he’s tired of holding up his head. They have never attempted to get to sitting or to pull to standing, and don’t “step” when bearing weight on their feet. They seem to me to be, as far as their gross motor skills, to be about where my term babies were at 4.5  - 6 months. Their small motor skills seem fine (they use pincer grasp for tiny objects) and they are very verbal, even for their actual ages. They each use over a dozens words with meaning, and seem intelligent and alert. Having only previously dealt with term babies, I’m not sure what’s expected as far as preemie development. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Diana

Dear Diana:

Pediatricians should not tell moms “not to worry.” They should give you information on how premature children do develop, and work with you, as a partner, to assist your twins in maximizing their development along the way to “catching up.” They sound like they will certainly “catch up”, but you need to be patient, and involved, and give them little “Boosts’ in areas where they are lagging, without pressuring yourself. There are early intervention programs in every county. That affords moms and dads great information about what to expect and how to get “stimulation” for the boys in certain areas, such as rolling or crawling. Why not: Some premature children catch up in a year, some in 3 or 4, some take longer, but the early language skills they exhibit bode well for a rapid “catching up”. Tell your pediatrician you want ideas, not a “blow off” you need to educate your pediatrician about infant toddler programs.

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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