Need Child Care For Your Premature Infant? What Are Your Options?

If you've unexpectedly given birth to your first child well before your due date, you may find yourself scrambling to make arrangements and purchase needed items, from covering your work schedule to purchasing extra-small diapers and outfits for your preemie newborn to wear home from the hospital. Even if you've already selected a daycare center or in-home care provider and made a deposit, you may discover that these child care arrangements are no longer suitable for your new baby. What can you do to quickly find appropriate child care for a premature infant? Read on for some factors you'll want to consider when making this important decision.

What special considerations must be taken into account when finding care for a premature infant?

Because the lungs are one of the last organs to fully develop before birth, your baby may require some assistance breathing once he or she is out in the world. Even once your baby is weaned from a ventilator or oxygen cannula, he or she may be dealing with less-developed lungs or smaller airway passages than full-term babies the same age. 

Unfortunately, this all-too-common respiratory difficulty can make certain child care providers a bad choice. If you were planning to send your child to an in-home daycare with indoor pets or "relaxed" housekeeping, you could find your baby dealing with breathing troubles due to the excess dust or pet dander in the air. Choosing a more sterile, pet-free provider can go a long way toward helping your infant breathe easier.

Your premature infant may also be more susceptible to contagious illnesses than a full-term baby, particularly if he or she is still too small to receive a full dose of certain vaccines. As a result, you may want to seek out centers that focus specifically on infant care, as your child is less likely to contract an ailment from another immobile infant than from a curious toddler who hasn't yet learned to wash his or her hands or cover his or her mouth when coughing.

What are your best options when it comes to your own baby's care? 

If you're facing a situation where you'll need to go back to work before (or shortly after) your child's original due date, you'll need to seek out a care provider who not only has available infant slots, but who is also prepared to deal with the unique needs of your preemie. If finding open infant slots is difficult in your market, you may want to enlist the services of a private nanny or an au pair until your baby is out of the "infant" stage and better able to mingle with children his or her age. 

You might also want to seek out your hospital's neonatal unit for advice on finding a care provider. Because these units are dedicated to the care and needs of premature infants, they are in one of the best positions to make child care recommendations or let you know whether your own child needs any special accommodations (like more frequent feedings or breathing treatments) when he or she begins attending a daycare facility. 

For more information and options, talk with different child care centers in your area, such as Small World Early Learning & Development Center