Tips to care for a preterm baby at home


By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |

Published: June 9, 2020 4:40:45 pm


At 20.1 million, India expected to have highest births since COVID-19 declared as pandemic: UNICEF You just need a little change in the environment around the baby to make him comfortable. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock/Representational image)

If your baby was born preterm, you may worry about taking him or her home outside the safety of the hospital. There’s no need to worry though as caring for preterm babies is not so different from caring for normal deliveries. You just need to make some changes in the environment around the baby to make him comfortable.

* The correct temperature – You need to make sure that your baby is at a comfortable and safe temperature. The most effective way to do this is by adding layers of clothing or removing them when necessary. Try not to overload the bed with blankets as it can raise the temperature, which may be too high for the baby to handle. Buy a digital thermometer and maintain the baby’s axillary temperature 36.5-37.3 C ( 97.6-99.1 F). The ideal room temperature is 20-23 C.

* Helping your baby sleep – You can help your baby sleep better by setting the right environment, like a cool temperature and dim lighting in a quiet room. Preterm babies also get hungry more often in the night than term babies because the smaller the baby, the more often they need to feed.

* Bathing your baby safely

– The water should not be hot, but warm instead.
– Wash his/her hair with plain water only.
– Don’t add any liquid cleansers to the bathwater. Plain water is best for your baby’s skin in the first month.
– Give a sponge bath until baby reaches 2.5 kg
– Avoid using any lotions or oils until your baby is at least a month old.

breastfeeding, coronavirus Wear a face mask while breastfeeding. (Source: Getty Images)

Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

This is a syndrome also known as cot death in which apparently healthy babies die in their sleep, usually within the first six months of life, says Sreenath Manikanti, Neonatologist & HOD Fortis La Femme Hospital, Bangalore. Premature babies are at slightly risk than term babies. It is still not known exactly what causes SIDS, however, we do know the following measures help prevent SIDS, such as:

* Never let your baby sleep on his stomach – This can harm the body as it can cause breathing difficulties. It’s alright if he turns over by himself as his brain is mature enough to alert him to breathing dangers. Sleeping on the back increases a baby’s access to fresh air and makes him less likely to feel too hot.

* Side-sleeping isn’t safe either – Studies show that putting a baby down on his side rather than on the back doubles the risk of SIDS.

* Don’t add anything in the bed except a fitted sheet – Wait until your baby’s first birthday before adding any pillows or blankets. Blankets, comforters, pillows and stuffed toys can hamper your baby’s breathing.

* Be careful while sleeping together – While sleeping in the bed, your baby could be suffocated by a pillow or a loose blanket. The baby’s air supply could be cut off if you or your spouse rolls onto him. Try to avoid co-sleeping until he becomes a little older as there are too many risks while sleeping together.

* Breastfeed as long as you can – Babies who are breastfed are more easily woken from sleep than formula-fed babies, which may be a reason why babies who are breastfed are less likely to die from SIDS. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol if you are breastfeeding as it increases the risk of SIDS.

* Avoid public places and some visitors – Preemies are more vulnerable to catch the infection, hence avoid visiting crowded places and limit the number of visitors to your home, especially anyone with a sickness. All guests should wash their hands before touching the baby.

* Practice kangaroo care and continue breastfeeding – “In a warm room at home, dress your baby only in a diaper and place the baby on your chest and turn the baby’s head to one side to enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Practice kangaroo care for as long as possible and as frequently as possible. Research has shown that kangaroo care in preterm babies enhances parent-infant bonding, promotes breastfeeding, stabilises the infant’s heart and respiratory rate, improves oxygenation, regulates body temperature and promotes growth,” adds Dr Manikanti.

* Prepare for an emergency – NICU graduates have a higher rate of re-hospitalisation than the average newborn population. Now is the time to prepare for an emergency, before one arises. Find out the nearest Hospital Emergency and fastest route from your home. Be prepared to call for an ambulance if you believe your baby’s condition is critical. Save the NICU number for advice. It’s advisable for caretakers to receive BLS ( Basic Life Support ) Training before discharge.

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