Developmental Care for Premature Babies at UnityPoint Health - Meriter

ER - Madison

7 min Average

Giving Developmental Care

Many nurseries are finding ways to help preemies develop as normally as possible during their stay in the hospital. This is called giving the preemie "developmental care".

Developmental care is designed to:

  • prevent the brain from being injured by intense or painful stimulation, and
  • provide the kinds of every day experiences that, to the best of what we know now, will help the baby to develop normally in all of the 5 areas.

A major goal of developmental care is to protect the preemie's brain and central nervous system, which control the five areas of development discussed in the Introduction. Those areas (physiological, motor, sleep/wakefulness, attention, and self-regulation) are the base for the baby's motor, mental and social development.

Why is Developmental Care important?

A number of researchers have studied preemies up through school age, and have found that they are more likely than children born full term to have problems with learning, coordination, language, and behavior (for example, paying attention, sitting still). Because there is a lot of research that shows that what happens to animal and human infants on a day-to-day basis affects the way that the brain develops, we think that some of these problems may be due to the fact that the preemie's early months were spent in a world that is very different from and more stressful than that of most human babies.

Studies of developmental care have shown that by making the NICU world more "baby friendly", some of these problems can be prevented.

What happens with Developmental Care?

Developmental care gives attention to the preemie's:

  • Physical Environment
  • Social Environment
  • Individuality - Understanding Your Preemie as a Person