Going Home - At Home
Now that your baby is well and at home, you might be worried about how they will get on – in the short-term and long-term.
A parent’s expectation about their baby’s development can often be based on comparisons with other children.
As a parent of a preterm baby, you need to know that your baby will take some time to catch up. You will be measuring your baby’s milestones according to their corrected age for up to 2 years.
Sometimes, even when we adjust for gestational age, some children who were born preterm may have a delay in their development.
- After your baby goes home your first contact will be with your local PHN who will call to see you and your baby.
- Your baby may also attend the hospital outpatient clinic where a doctor will review how they are getting on at home, how they are getting on from a medical point of view and how they are developing.
- Your baby’s neonatal unit team will decided how often your baby needs to come to the outpatient department and who they will need to see.
- Babies can only come to the outpatient department with an appointment. You will be provided with details of appointments in advance.
- When your baby does not need to come to the hospital outpatient clinic anymore, their follow-up medical care will be transferred to their GP or to another specialist service if required.
- In the meantime, their medical care is shared between the hospital clinic and their GP.
Some babies including those born very preterm, with a very low birth weight or babies with a specific clinical history including those who have had retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), will need to attend the Ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for eye check-ups. These appointments are really important as missing appointments could cause problems with your baby’s eyes.
It is important to detect any hearing difficulties as early as possible. Hearing difficulties can make it harder for a child to listen and to learn to speak.
Your baby’s hearing will be screened before they are discharged home from the hospital, see ‘Hearing screening’. If any issue is detected, your baby will be referred for a full hearing assessment. In specific circumstances, a targeted hearing test may be organised for your baby at 8-9 months of age. These appointments are really important to go to as missing appointments could mean missing diagnosing hearing problems.
Formal assessment of your baby’s development
Some babies who were born very preterm, or with a very low birth weight or a specific clinical history, may be asked to come to clinic for a formal developmental assessment at 24 months corrected age. This assessment is only available in some hospitals and is performed by a developmental psychologist or physiotherapist using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development. See Your baby’s development’.
If your child has a delay in a specific area when assessed, they will be referred to a service (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy) to try to help this delay get better.
This developmental assessment allows the neonatal team to identify what area of your child’s development is delayed – for example language development, sensory integration or fine motor or gross motor delay – and these areas can be assessed in more detail. See Your baby’s development.
- Gross motor skills involve movements of the large muscles of the body, including the arms and legs.
- Fine motor skills involve movements of the hands and fingers.