Learning About Feeding Your Premature Infant at Home

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What do you need to know about feeding your baby at home?

Your baby was born early, or prematurely. Your "preemie" is getting special care in the hospital. This care includes giving your baby all needed nutrition.

You're looking forward to the day you'll take your baby home. But the thought of caring for your baby at home might be scary right now. Lots of parents feel that way.

Both you and your baby will be ready. Going home means the hospital staff believes that your baby is strong enough. The staff will teach you everything you need to know about feeding your baby. They will make sure that you can do it yourself. When you are at home with your baby, you'll be more free to enjoy being a parent. You'll worry less about whether you're doing things right.

What can you expect?

  • You may feed your baby from the breast, a bottle, or both. The hospital will send you home with a feeding schedule. You'll also learn what extra vitamins or supplements to add to the breast milk or formula to help your baby grow.
  • If your baby needs tube-feeding at home, the hospital staff will teach you what to do. You'll learn how to add food to the tube, give the right amount of food, and take care of the tubes.
  • You'll feed your baby small amounts many times a day. Your baby will eat a little more each time as part of growing and getting stronger. And you'll be able to wait longer between feedings.
  • The hospital and your baby's doctor are just a phone call away if you have questions or problems. You'll get contact information when you take your baby home. Your hospital may also offer home visits or home nursing care to help you with your new baby.
  • Caring for your preemie can be stressful. It's helpful to be open and honest and to talk about your daily challenges as well as your joys. Sometimes the best support comes from people who are facing the same things that you are. Your hospital may have a support group for families with preemies. There are support groups on the Internet too.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.