Support the work of the National Maternity Hospital Foundation >

Section 4 - Getting to know your baby


This step-by-step chart will help you to understand your how your baby develops as they grow. It will help you to know when your baby is ready to communicate with you.

Ideally, your baby needs to develop each step before they progress to the next step, e.g. your baby’s physiological, motor and state of alertness (steps 1-3) need to be met before they are ready to actively socialise with you (step 4).

This table is adapted from the NIDCAP Programme see so this needs to be acknowledged

Your preterm baby’s early developmental progress: step-by-step



Physiological and autonomic organisation
I need to focus on regulating my heartbeat, my blood pressure, my temperature and my digestive system.



Motor Organisation
I have to develop smooth, co-ordinated body movements. Mymuscles are becoming stronger, and my posture is improving.



Stay of alertness
You will know when i am awake or asleep. My awake times are longer. I have more facial expression, eye and body movements. I can respond to my environment and to you.



Social interaction
I can start to take interest in and look at faces or objects. I can react to meaning ul sounds.



Interactive organisation
I can interact with my environment without getting unduly stressed or upset. I can self-comfort to remain relaxed and restful.



Watching, focusing and following
I can focus my eyes on your face. I watch people nearby and track the movement of bright lights. I can respond to sounds, tastes and smells.