Give parenting tips or share your baby's photographs.

Preemie Growth Chart

Preemie Growth Chart

When a baby is born premature or before full term (preterm), it is an arduous time for the family. The parents are worried about the complete mental and physical development of their child. A growth chart, for such preemies, is not just a way to keep a detailed record of the baby's growth, but also a way to celebrate the small but pertinent improvement of their bundle of joy.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: May 6, 2018
Proud to be a Preemie

Some of the famous premature babies include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Stevie Wonder, Johann Goethe, and Sir Winston Churchill.

Your baby is not alone!

Congratulation! It's a Preemie!
Birth of a baby is a delightful, overwhelming and precious feeling for the parents. And each baby born into the world has its own Herculean task - to live one day at a time. The nine months in womb strengthen and prepare the baby to survive on its own after birth. Every day of gestational period is vital for normal growth of the baby. It is absolutely fine to be anxious and scared if your baby is born as a preemie. Preterm birth refers to when a baby is born between 23 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. If a baby is born before 26 weeks and weighs less than 1¾ pounds, it is called micro preemie. Parenting a premature baby may seem difficult, but with extra efforts and support, you can enjoy your beautiful creation.

At 2 months
Motor skills
  • Active leg and hand movement
  • Reaches for objects
  • Smiles with eye contact
  • Recognizes and responds to mother
  • Responds to voices
Verbal Response
  • Makes 'aaah' and 'ooh' sounds
  • Distinct cries for different needs
At 4 months
Motor skills
  • Crawls on tummy
  • Controlled head movement
  • Gets attracted towards mirror
  • Interacts with others
Verbal Response
  • Combined sounds
  • Laughs

NICU! Sounds Scary........!
Preemies are kept in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for several days or weeks, as per discretion of your doctor, for the development of the baby. In such situations, it is best to follow every piece of advice and instruction given by your baby's pediatrician. Once your baby is ready to go home, consult the doctor regarding growth charts and calendars and also further visits.

Is My Baby Growing?
There are various kinds of growth charts available in the market to assist you in keeping a track of your infant's development. The pediatrician will follow specific growth charts to monitor how well your baby grows. These charts are divided into many categories as follows:
  • Pounds and Ounces
  • Length (inches)
  • Length (centimeters)
  • Grams
  • Gestational Age
  • Milestones
Thus, you can monitor the advances of your baby through the preemie chart at home. You may not get the accurate readings at home like the doctor, but it will be helpful enough to analyze the progress. Most of the doctors use these charts that are supplied by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The American Academy of Pediatrics.

What is Adjusted Age?
If the growth chart you are using is for full-term baby, pediatricians recommend adjusting your baby's age to get better knowledge your baby's growth. So, if your baby is 21 weeks old and is born 5 weeks early, you should compare its growth to 16 weeks data given in the chart. By the time your child is 2 years old, you will no longer need to adjust the age as most preemies catch up to normal growth as their full term counterparts. If not, don't be alarmed. Your preemie needs extra support and care. And you don't have to do it all alone. Contact your doctor.

At 6 months
Motor skills
  • Sits up
  • Throws and bangs objects
  • Responds to name
  • Reacts to absence of parents
  • Expresses basic emotions
Verbal Response
  • Makes 'da', 'ga' and 'ka' sounds
  • Babbles a lot
At 9 months
Motor skills
  • Crawls faster and easily
  • Uses thumb and finger to pick objects
  • Resists strangers
  • Tries to feed on everything
Verbal Response
  • Words like 'dada' and 'mama'
  • Imitates voices

While keeping a record of preemies, it is important to get your baby's measurements right. Try to use a correct tape and digital scale for weighing. Also while checking the length, take help of your partner or a family member to hold the baby still. To calculate the head circumference, wrap the tape around your baby's forehead, just above the ears and eyebrows, because you want to measure the largest part. Fill up all the statistics in the preemie growth chart against the gestational age.

Is My Baby REALLY Growing?
The premature growth chart is a basic gird on which the measurements are plotted and compared to the statistics charts. The samples help determine the percentile group in which your child belongs. It also helps to learn if the height, weight and head circumference are showing a consistent growth pattern. If your baby falls in the low percentile group, the baby is smaller than average and if the baby is in the high percentile group, it shows the baby is larger than babies of similar age.

You should not worry much about the percentile your baby falls under. Instead, focus on his/her percentile on the chart. The measurements should point towards an even growth. The long-term changes in weight measurements plotted may also help the doctor track any potential health issue.

At 12 months
Motor skills
  • Baby's first step
  • Stands up with support
  • Can drink from a cup on his/her own
  • Attaches words to objects
Verbal Response
  • Keeps repeating a word
At 15 months
Motor skills
  • Walks on his own
  • Tries to get up on furniture
  • Plays with other children
  • Likes to hear stories
Verbal Response
  • Asks for food
  • Greets people

A statistical chart represents the physical growth of your preemie. There are certain other parameters on which you can identify your preemie's development. You can also refer to growth charts that categories certain motor and cognitive achievements of your baby. Now, it is important to remember that your baby is unique. So do not get worked up if your baby's development doesn't match the average growth data given in the chart or any milestone. Your baby's growth is not a competition. It is an ongoing process.

At 18 months
Motor skills
  • Kicks the ball
  • Can run
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Points to facial features
  • Likes to play 'pretend'
Verbal Response
  • Speaks more often
  • Refuses to do things
At 24 - 30 months
Motor skills
  • Climbs stairs alone
  • Can turn single pages of a book
  • Can open doors
  • Washes and dries hands
Verbal Response
  • Makes 2 - 3 word sentences
  • Uses at least 20 words

Remember, you are parenting a preemie. Unless there is a steep decline in the weight of the baby, there isn't much to be scared of!