Preemie Love

Baby milestones in perspective

My baby boy has his six-month checkup this week. I’m nervous.

He may be oblivious to it, but there’s a lot of pressure to perform.

At his four-month checkup, the pediatrician told me I was probably focusing too much on my older son, and that’s why my baby wasn’t rolling over yet. (Ouch!) Now with the big half-year milestone in view, he’s supposed to be sitting up, passing things from one hand to the other, and probably more things I don’t think he can do yet.

With the pressure on, I’ve been trying to help him get the hang of supporting himself when he is propped up on the floor. At first he just folded over forwards. Now he balances upright for a couple seconds before toppling sideways.

My baby boy was six weeks premature, yet he is subject to all the same expectations as the bigger babies who got an extra month and a half over him in the womb. If they would use his adjusted age, he’d be four and a half months. To be honest, he’s probably somewhere in between developmentally.

Sometimes I hate opening those email updates that talk about all the wonderful things may baby is supposed to be doing at this point in time. My first son, who was four weeks early, NEVER liked stacking things, and I don’t remember him ever staring at his hands.  I kept waiting for him to do those things. (No matter, it’s a useful service. And there’s always a little disclaimer at the end that reminds you that every baby develops differently.)

But still, it plants the seed: Is something wrong with my baby?

In truth, babies do develop differently. Though he’s not sitting on his own yet, and rolling over is still pretty rare, he loves standing up (holding my hands of course). And he’s nearly potty trained. Don’t those things count?

The problem is that babies everywhere go through a progression of skills they acquire before they can go onto the next thing. That’s why rolling, then sitting, then crawling and finally walking are so important. You generally don’t get one before the other.

Still, I’m in no hurry. It seems the past 6 months have flown by, and I’ll be just fine if my little boy isn’t walking when he turns one. As long as things are progressing, I figure we’re fine.

I’m just hoping the pediatrician agrees with me tomorrow, as we struggle to show off our best almost-sitting-up performance.

Preemie Love

Protect your baby from Flat Head Syndrome

Beanie Designs loooovvves those sweet little baby noggins. So we want parents to be aware of the dangers and remedies for a problem that’s becoming more and more common in babies: flat head syndrome.

Now that most babies are placed on their backs to sleep, you see flat head syndrome in infants who prefer to keep their heads in a certain position when they’re sleeping and laying in car seats, strollers, bouncers, swings, etc. Preemies are also more prone to flat head syndrome.

While a flat spot on the head has been thought to be mostly cosmetic (imagine if your little guy has to shave his head down the road! Yikes!), there may be situations where it’s more serious. Some people wonder if the baby will be at risk for eye, ear, and jaw problems down the road. And some research is starting to show potential learning problems for kids with flat head syndrome.

How flat head syndrome develops

Due to the pressure on the favored spot during sleep time, a baby’s still-forming skull will actually flatten and lose its natural rounded shape. This may result in one spot on the side of the head that is flattened, or the entire back flattening out. Either way, the flat spot is often accompanied by a bulge in another spot to accommodate, resulting in a misshapen head.

What you can do to prevent flat head syndrome

From the beginning, we alternated positions in the crib for our first son on the advice of our pediatrician, and he ended up with a perfectly shaped little head.

But then I started to see our second baby developing a flat spot. He sleeps propped up in the Fisher Price Sleep and Play bassinet, to help with his reflux. I noticed that the back of his head was becoming quite flat, and his skull was starting to bulge out at his temples! From the side, he looked a bit cone headed. I couldn’t believe it. And because it was gradual, it took some time for me to notice.

The changing shape of his skull was actually altering how his face looked. And not in a good way.

Not wanting my child to end up looking like Charlie Brown, I searched for remedies. He was only three months old, so his skull was still very pliable.

  • Repositioning him seemed like a good option. But it didn’t work, due to where he sleeps and an already strong preference for his head position.
  • Many experts recommend tummy time for all awake play time. But for us, tummy time was only a few minutes a day, since he still sleeps about 16 hours every day.
  • They also recommend not letting your baby sleep very much in the car seat, bouncy seat or swing, though he didn’t do that anyway. We use a sling more than the stroller and rarely spend time in the car.

I found a product that is helping. The Boppy Noggin Nest has a donut hole in the back, so it holds the baby’s head in position and relieves the pressure.

Though this pillow is not a medical device intended for treating flat head syndrome, it’s working. After a few weeks of use, my son’s head is rounding out nicely. It’s still a bit flat in back, but the sides are no longer bulging out, and he looks more like he had before I noticed the problem. BIG sigh of relief here.

Have you had any issues with flat head syndrome with your baby? If so, what did you do? Please share with our readers here!

Preemie Love

How kangaroo care works

If you’ve ever kangarooed your baby, you know it’s a miraculous feeling. Those tiny hands and that warm little body, snuggled up so tenderly on your bare skin. It’s an amazing feeling for the mom as well as the baby.

Kangaroo care is especially helpful for babies born prematurely. Preemies are fragile and often suffer from difficulties arising from their too-early departure from the womb. And while the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is set up to provide for their medical care, they are missing out on the normal developmental progression that happens while still inside mom.

Take just sleep, for example. In the last six weeks of gestation, babies sleep upwards of 20 hours a day. But in the NICU, premature babies often only get two hours of deep sleep, often less than a minute at a time.

Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin time with mom (or dad), can bring an amazing set of benefits for premature babies.

  • Better, deeper sleep
  • Regulated heart rate, breathing and oxygen levels
  • Regulated body temperature
  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Better weight gain
  • Calmer movements, with less crying

For moms, too, there are wonderful benefits. Your breast milk supply will receive a natural boost, and you’ll bond in a very intimate, natural manner with your child, gaining confidence in your ability to care for your baby.

In fact, these benefits can apply also to full term babies, too.

Physiologically, the closeness of you and your baby’s bodies causes amazing things to happen.

Studies have shown that a mother’s body will produce just the right amount of heat her baby needs to maintain a healthy temperature. Her chest will warm up quickly and then cool off as needed, more efficiently than any incubator. Her heartbeat soothes the baby, who is reminded of safe, comfortable days in the womb. He will relax and sleep deeply, which allows him to gain weight and grow neurologically, developing in leaps and bounds that are impossible in the busy, noisy NICU.

See Kangaroo Care: Why Does it Work? and Kangaroo Care Benefits for an outline on the research studies around kangaroo care. Then get set to snuggle up with your little one the next chance you get!

Preemie Love

A baby hat fit for preemies

The two poms hat fit my little preemie

The two poms baby hat on my 6 week premature son

My second son was a preemie, born 6 weeks early. Though he was a decent size for his gestational age (4 lbs 15 oz), nothing seemed to fit him. Even the thin little blue and pink hats at the hospital kept slipping around on his head, and the nurses had to double them up.

As soon as I got my hands on this little Two Poms Baby Hat, I knew I had a keeper. It’s been wonderful, keeping his head warm and growing with him as he nears 7 lbs now. And it certainly looks a lot better than the standard hats you find in the hospital.

At first I rolled up the rim when his head was really tiny. Now he wears it down, filling it out a bit more. (In the picture, you can see it’s up in the back but down in the front.) Either way, it is snug and warm without being tight or binding.

But how does this baby hat hold up to washing, you ask?

Of course you want to wash your newborn’s clothes before you put them on him, regardless if organic or not.

You’ll see that the baby hats on this site can be machine washed.

But I have to admit, I’ve wondered how the Beanie Designs hats actually hold up to machine washing. (I’m fairly new to the company, and my domain is mostly the blog.) So I took the chance and tossed the hat in the washer with the rest of his baby clothes. I skipped the dryer, though, instead hanging it up to dry.

I’m pleased to report that the Two Poms Baby Hat looked exactly the same as new once it had dried! The dense pompoms fluffed up all on their own, and the knit remained consistent and soft.

Brown two poms baby hat

The brown two poms baby hat from Beanie Designs

We haven’t officially added preemie sizes to our hat collection yet, but if your baby is on the smaller side, I’d recommend the Two Poms Baby Hat for it’s snugness and potential for fitting a rapidly growing head. We went for the lovely mid brown color, but it also comes in other colors to suit your preferences for your baby.

And no worries if your baby is bigger – the hat is available in a range of sizes.

And you’ll also see that our hats ship fast (and free!), usually leaving our warehouse the next business day, just as a sample of the customer service you’ll get at Beanie Designs. We’re a company that genuinely cares about making baby’s lives better, and we know you want to get your hat on your baby’s little head fast!