Hi Dr. Ombeva,
When is the best time to wean a baby born prematurely? My friend’s baby was born at 31 weeks and weighed 1.6kgs, she has been advised by different people to wean the baby at 9 months given that the baby didn’t attain the normal delivery weight and wasn’t born at full term. Mary, Kajiado.
It is incorrect to delay weaning up to nine months because beyond six months breast milk alone is not adequate to meet an infant’s nutritional requirements for normal growth and development. First, we do not correct for age when considering weaning options.
The age of any person or child is counted from their date of birth, and not the date they should have been born. The concept of correction of age for dates is used in rare and limited medical situations to make medical decisions.
Otherwise you do not correct dates for the birthday. A person’s birthday is the day they were born, whether they were preemies, or post-dates, it doesn’t matter. Outside neonatal period (the first month of life), the same rules for growth and care of infants applies across board.
Most paediatricians usually follow up premature babies for a few more visits than babies born at term, and give them growth and iron supplements. In general, once any premature baby goes beyond the first month, they grow like other kids.
And if growing well, just count their age from the birth date, which is their birthday. And progress as you would progress with other kids, whether on weaning or other milestones.
ALSO READ: The role of fathers in the delivery room
Some experts recommend correction for Gestational age when assessing growth development, with the thought that even though many preemies catch up quickly, there’s no need to, for example, immediately launch into investigation for developmental “delay” when a baby was born at say at 26 weeks of gestation is not sitting independently at age of nine months after birth.
Vaccines too should be given based on age from delivery date.