How to Care for My Premature Baby at Home
You may be filled with mixed emotions, including trepidation, joy and excitement, when the time comes to take your premature baby home. Depending on how early he was born, he may have spent several days, weeks or even months in the NICU being cared for by nurses and doctors. When you take him home, you will be responsible for his care. While you may be worried, remember that you can call his doctor at any time if you have concerns or questions.
Keep your baby on the well-visit schedule that her doctor recommends. Her doctor may want to see her more frequently than the schedule usually recommended for babies born at-term. Also, see any specialists that her doctor refers her to.
Get your baby all of his vaccines. Most of the time, preemies can have all of their vaccines on schedule, according to KidsHealth.org. Since your baby may be more at risk from influenza or certain respiratory infections, ask about vaccines that are made especially for premature babies.
Give your baby any vitamins that her doctor recommends. FamilyDoctor.org states that preemies often need extra iron or other vitamins. Do not give any supplements or vitamins without the advice of her doctor.
Feed your baby often. FamilyDoctor.org recommends counting wet diapers to be sure that he is not getting dehydrated. Your baby should have six to eight wet diapers each day. If he has fewer than this, call his doctor. Introduce solid foods four to six months after his due date, not his actual birthday.
Use any monitors or special equipment that your baby needs as you were directed in the hospital. If your baby requires an apnea monitor or supplemental oxygen, be sure that you know how to use them before you take her home.
Limit your premature baby's exposure to illnesses, recommends KidsHealth.org. Avoid heavily congested areas or places where you know people are likely to be sick. Ask for the first appointment of the day at the doctor's office or ask to sit in an examination room instead of the germ-filled waiting room. Limit the number of visitors until your baby is stronger and healthier.