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Going Home - Your Baby's Development

Your Baby's Development

Being born preterm, staying in the neonatal unit for a long time or any other health problem can slow down your baby’s development.

Try not to compare your baby to other babies. It is important to know that:

  • Your baby’s development is based on their corrected age during the first two years of life.
  • Most preterm babies do ‘catch up’, but in their own time, usually by the time they are 2 years corrected age.

Preterm babies need more time

Preterm babies need more time and care.

Early on, babies have limited eye contact and facial expressions but they will still need to be looked at and spoken to, to take care of their emotional needs and to help their social development.You will find that they will become more alert and responsive over time. They will spend more time awake. 

Parents have a really important role in supporting your baby’s development. Babies need a warm and loving home environment with opportunities for rest and play.


Talking, playing and affectionate touching will develop your baby’s cognitive, language and motor development.

In the early days, baby will use their behaviours to help show you the type of play and social interactions that they enjoy, remember to watch their cues to know how much they are able for.

See ‘Understanding your baby’s behaviour signals’ and ‘Knowing when your baby is ready for play, rest and feeds’ LINK.

When learning new skills, some preterm babies will need additional encouragement, as they can be less adventurous than a term baby. They can be more hesitant when attempting new tasks, e.g. trying to roll over or sit. If your baby’s progress seems a little slow, talk to their Paediatrician, Public Health Nurse (PHN) or General Practitioner (GP).

Key areas for development