Parenting Preemies: Advice on the Toddler Years From Those Who’ve Been There!

All parents of toddlers know that life is an adventure every single day. Being a preemie parent, I’m told,  is an emotional journey unlike anything else.

I have watched friends and family members go through the ups and downs of preemie parenting, and have cheered on their babies as they achieved milestones. I’ve sat on the other end of the telephone and listened as they cried, and I’ve celebrated each tiny victory as they came.

A reader asked me to write about preemie parenting in the toddler years. Since I don’t have first-hand experience, I thought it would be appropriate to ask parents who’ve actually experienced it to give their input.

Mothers of premature children are here to offer their advice. The photos are of their preemies as  newborns and today.

  • Time for Emotional Healing 1 of 8
    Time for Emotional Healing
    Now's the time for emotional healing and focusing on the gifts of prematurity: learning early on that "it takes a village"; opting out of the parental competition; and giving back to new premie parents.
    -Babble reader Jenny from Hobson's Choice
  • Looking Back… 2 of 8
    Looking Back...
    Some parts of your experience will never stop hurting, but the pain and guilt you may have felt in that first year do fade. I am still uncomfortable when I think of a nurse who blamed me for pulling out a PICC line so that she would not get in trouble for pulling it out herself. But I no longer feel enraged and sorrowful. Well-meaning comments by folks who "don't get it" are now more of a source of amusement than a cause for private tears.
    -Babble Reader Jenny
  • Don’t Make Assumptions 3 of 8
    Don't Make Assumptions
    The best piece of advice I can give is to just relax and not assume that every delay or growth issue stems from prematurity. My 4 oldest kids were all full-term, and 3 of them didn't walk until 14-16 mos! If they had been preemies, I would have probably blamed it on maturity instead of lazy genetics.
    -Mary Kate of Why Yes I Am Crazy, Thank You for Asking
  • Don’t Let them Be Defined by Their Start in Life 4 of 8
    Don't Let them Be Defined by Their Start in Life
    The most important thing to remember is that as long as they ARE growing and developing, even at a slower pace, they will most likely catch up and everything will be OK. Don't let them be defined by their start in life!
    -Mary Kate of Why Yes I Am Crazy, Thank You for Asking
  • Take it Day by Day 5 of 8
    Take it Day by Day
    Always take it day by day. Looking back I realize how difficult our lives were with a 3 pound baby with multiple health issues, three older kids at home and a father in law that was dying. I look back and am proud of my strength and courage to take every day as a chance to help her and make sure she had the best chance at life.
    - Babble Reader Amie
  • Recognize Your Strength 6 of 8
    Recognize Your Strength
    My best advice is one day you will look back on your time in the NICU, at doctors' appointments and sleepless nights and realize that you are strongest person that you know!
    - Babble Reader Amie
  • Catching Up 7 of 8
    Catching Up
    I was 32.5 weeks gestation when my son was born weighing 3lbs 9oz and was in the NICU 19 days. He obviously was negative on the growth chart but slowly he climbed into the 20th percentile. At 2 he started the birth to three program for speech delay. At 4 he tested out of speech therapy. He has sensitive skin, texture issues with foods, and used to suffer from night terrors.
    - Babble Reader P.J.
  • A Miracle 8 of 8
    A Miracle
    People will still say "Oh he is little for 5" and I still catch myself saying, "He was premature" which doesn't even need to be said. He was a miracle and has brought so much love and joy to our family! He loves school, piano lessons, soccer, t-ball, marching bands, dancing, and so much more. You would never know that he was born premature unless I told you.
    - Babble Reader P.J.

Are you the parent of a preemie toddler? What has your experience been? Leave your advice in the comments!


Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

More by Mary Lauren:

Expert Tips for Tackling Tough Toddler Questions

Lengthening the Fuse: 5 Tips for Becoming a More Patient Mom

Why I Won’t Apologize for Blogging about My Family


Article Posted 4 years Ago

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