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Your premature baby

  • Premature babies are born too early and too small.
  • They may have long-term health problems.
  • Nearly half a million premature babies are born each year.
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Reflux in infants

Most babies spit up once in a while, but some do it a lot. This is called reflux. Reflux is short for gastroesophageal reflux or GER. Reflux happens when food in the stomach comes back up during or after a feeding. It often happens to babies who were born early. Most of the time babies outgrow the condition in a few months. Most babies don’t seem to be upset by reflux.

Feeding tips

If your baby had reflux in the NICU, the nurses may have shown you how to feed and position your baby to minimize spit up. These tips may help:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding.
  • Try smaller, more frequent feedings.
  • Burp your baby often, especially if you are feeding him with a bottle.
  • Try a different nipple on your baby's bottle so he swallows less air.
  • Keep your baby still after feeding.

When to call your baby's health care provider

These symptoms may mean that your baby has other problems digesting food:

  • The spit-up is bright yellow or green.
  • There is a large amount of spit-up.
  • Your baby arches his back or cries during feeding.
  • Your baby vomits with great force (projectile vomiting).

See also: Share your story

Last reviewed August 2014

How old is my baby?

  • Age can be based on the baby’s birthday.
  • Age can be based on the baby’s due date.
  • Development time is unique to each baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I calculate adjusted age for preemies?

Chronological age is the age of a baby from the day of birth. Adjusted age is the age of the baby based on his due date. To calculate adjusted age, take your baby's chronological age (for example, 20 weeks) and subtract the number of weeks premature the baby was (6 weeks). This baby's adjusted age (20 - 6) is 14 weeks. Health care providers may use this age when they evaluate the baby's growth and development. Most premature babies catch up to their peers developmentally in 2 to 3 years. After that, differences in size or development are most likely due to individual differences, rather than to premature birth. Some very small babies take longer to catch up.

What does it mean if a baby is born “late preterm?”

Late preterm means that a baby is born after 34 weeks but before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It's important to try to have your baby as close to 39 weeks of pregnancy as possible. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, your baby's organs, like his brains, lungs and liver, are still growing. Waiting until you're at least 39 weeks also gives your baby time to gain more weight and makes him less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth. Your baby will also be better able to suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he's born. Babies born early sometimes can't do these things.

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