How can I use typical sleep guidelines for my preemie?
It is important to remember that premature babies are unlikely to develop at the same pace as full-term babies. Instead, their development is more likely to track their age corrected for their prematurity (that is, their actual age minus the number of weeks they were born prematurely). So, if your baby was born two months prematurely, you should not expect them to sleep through the night until two months after their full-term peers. You should focus on typical sleep guidelines for their corrected age rather than their actual age.
Regardless of whether your infant is premature or full-term, it is good to get into good sleep practices as soon as you can. For example, if at night, lights are low, noise is kept to a minimum and stimulation is avoided, the baby will begin to learn that the night is a time for rest rather than activity. You can start a bedtime routine early in life too – such as reading your child a relaxing story before putting them down so that they can begin to prepare themselves for sleep. Premature babies can be particularly vulnerable – so it is important to discuss your approach to their sleep with a health care provider as soon as you can after their birth.About Dr. Alice Gregory