My child is now 18 months old. She was born about a month early, but I have never been instructed to see her as a "preemie." She was five pounds at birth. But she seems to be about six months behind all her counterparts. I run a home day care and have really given her a wide berth and freedom to learn on her own. Should I have been more hands-on? Is something wrong? What can I do to help her be more interactive and responsive? I'm so worried I've messed her up.
I'm quite sure you have not "messed up" your daughter. Children are designed to reach out and learn in a safe environment; they're largely self-propelled if given learning opportunities. But I value your observation that she is behind on development. It's time for her 18-month health supervision visit: Call ahead and tell the office that you are concerned about developmental delay, so the staff can schedule enough time to address this concern. Go to the Well Baby
area of this site at the 1-year and 18-month Health Care sections and look under What to Expect and Speak Up. Identify things that your daughter is doing or not doing and bring that list with you for the visit. If she is behind, an early intervention program in your area should be able to point out ways to help your daughter develop without pushing her too much. When looking at development in preemies, we generally correct for the amount of prematurity. We would expect her development to be at about 17 months if she was one month early. We can't explain a six-month delay due to her early birth
alone. That's why I suggest that you get a good look at this. You've identified this concern early and that's important to getting things back on track.