Ask Dr. Marla: Developmental Milestones in Premature Babies

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on April 19, 2010

Question:

My daughter was born five weeks early and she seems to reach all of her development milestones approximately five weeks later than the charts – all but one. She is nine and a half months old now and is just starting to sit up on her own. She will sit for a few seconds and then throw herself backwards full force. We have tried to practise with her but she just wants to stand. She locks her legs and stands up She walks when holding our fingers, rolls across the floor to move around. It’s as if she is just not interested in sitting. Should we be concerned about this?

Answer:

“Developmental milestones” is a phrase we use to describe a set of skills or tasks that children do at a specific age range. It is important to remember that every child is indeed unique and the actual age when a child reaches a so-called milestone may vary quite a bit.

Your baby was born at 35 weeks and we do know that premature babies have muscles and a nervous system that do not function at the very same level as a full-term baby. You are right that using corrected age is important when assessing your child. In the range of six to nine months in terms of motor skills, babies will roll over, move from sitting with support to sitting independently, and support their weight on their feet when held in an upright position and crawl. You are not describing an infant with weak tone. Typically babies who sit and have low tone will slouch forward and do not have the strength to arch backwards.

I do understand your concern at her not sitting independently, however it does sound as if she has met all her other milestones. Discuss your concerns frankly and if you are not reassured, you could ask your doctor to refer you to a developmental paediatrician.


Published May 2010



By Dr. Marla Shapiro| April 19, 2010

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