Developmental Milestones :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Developmental Milestones

Nationwide Children's Hospital provides a number of resources, including videos, to help you better understand your NICU baby's milestones and stay involved in his or her developmental care. Read and watch what to expect.


Milestones of 22-27 Weeks Gestation

 

 

Movement

  • I am easily startled. Touch, light and noise might upset me.
  • I need help to keep my arms and legs bent and close to my body.
  • My movements are mostly jerks and twitches.

Sleep

  • I sleep for 20 to 22 hours a day to grow and heal.

  • I like it best when it is quiet and the lights are low.

Touch

  • I like to hold your finger to comfort me.

  • When you touch me, keep your hands steady and firm.

  • My favorite touch is kangaroo care, also called skin-to-skin holding.

Senses

  • One of my biggest jobs is keeping my heart rate and breathing pattern steady.

  • I’m not ready to open my eyes. Protect me from bright light.

  • I need to hear your voice. I will respond better if you talk to me quietly.

  • Bring in a blanket that you’ve held on your skin, so I can learn your scent.

Feeding

  • I may not be ready for a pacifier yet.

Social/Emotional

  • I know when you are close to me.

 

Back To Top >>

 

Milestones of 28-32 Weeks Gestation

 

 
Movement
  • I am trying to bend my arms and legs now, but I still need your help to curl up.
  • I still need help to keep me tucked and supported, just like when I was in my mommy’s tummy.
  • My signs of stress are: a grimace, stiff arms and legs, wide-open hands, toes spread apart, and the hiccups.

Sleep

  • I am trying to be awake and calm for short amounts of time.

  • I like it best when it is quiet and the lights are low.

  • I grow and heal when I am in a deep sleep.

Touch

  • I like steady, firm touch. Light touch may upset me.

  • My favorite touch is skin-to-skin holding.

  • Use my blankets or your hands to help me tuck into a fetal position. This is called hand containment.

Senses

  • One of my biggest jobs is keeping my heart rate and breathing pattern steady.

  • I open my eyes when the lights are low.

  • I stay more relaxed with quiet noise. Speak softly to me. I can tell your voice from other people’s voices.

  • Bring in a blanket that you’ve held on your skin, so I can learn your scent.

Feeding

  • I am not quite ready, but I may start to show signs that I am ready to eat.

  • Please give me my pacifier during tube feeds. (Ask my nurse or therapist which size pacifier is best for me.)

Social/Emotional

  • I may become alert to your voice.

  • I am learning to calm myself by bringing my hand to my mouth and face.

 

Back To Top >>

 

Milestones of 33-36 Weeks Gestation

 

 

Movement

  • I may start to kick now when I am awake.
  • I can turn my head from the middle to the side.
  • My stress signs are: stiff arms and legs, arching, wide open hands, toes spread apart, yawning, sneezing, hiccups and turning head away.
  • My self-calming behaviors are: hands to the mouth and face, grabbing your finger, holding my feet together, and sucking my fingers or pacifier.

Sleep

  • I am waking up many times during the day and staying awake longer.

  • I like dim lighting in the daytime and lights out at night.

  • I still need deep sleep to grow and develop.

Touch

  • I like skin-to-skin contact and steady, firm touch. Light touch may upset me.

  • Ask my nurse or therapist if I’m ready for Baby’s First Massage.

  • I still like to be swaddled in bed and when I am being held. It comforts me.

Senses

  • Shield me from bright lights.  

  • Loud noises still may upset me.

  • I can see 6 to 8 inches away, but I am not ready for mobiles or pictures.

  • I can tell your voice from other people’s voices.

Feeding

  • A green pacifier helps to teach me how to suck for feeding.

  • Please give me my pacifier dipped in milk, during tube feeds. This helps me practice sucking.

  • Ask my nurse or therapist if I’m ready to feed by mouth.

  • I am just learning how to suck, swallow, and breathe.

  • Feeding is my hardest job. It may take time for me to learn.

Social/Emotional

  • I am ready for you to hold and talk to me when I am awake.

  • Teach me to comfort myself by helping me with my self-calming behaviors (listed above).

 

Back To Top >>

 

Milestones of 37-40 Weeks Gestation

 

 

Movement

  • My arms and legs are bent almost all the time now.
  • My movements are smoother because I am stronger now.
  • I can turn my head from the middle to the side.
  • My behavioral stress signs are: stiff arms and legs, arching, wide open hands, toes spread apart, yawning, sneezing, hiccups, and turning my head away.
  • My self-calming behaviors are: hands to mouth and face, grabbing your finger, holding my feet together, and sucking my fingers or pacifier.

Sleep

  • I am waking up several times during the day and staying awake longer.

  • I like dim lighting in the daytime and lights out at night.

  •  As a newborn, I sleep 17 to 20 hours a day.

Touch

  • Ask my nurse or therapist if I’m ready for Baby’s First Massage.

  • I don’t need as much help to keep my arms and legs close to my body, but I still like to be swaddled.

Senses

  • Shield me from bright lights.

  • Loud noises still may upset me.

  • I can see 8 to 10 inches away and am starting to follow objects.

  • Ask my therapist or nurse if I am ready for a mobile.

  • I can tell your voice from other people’s voices.

Feeding

  • A green pacifier helps to teach me how to suck for feeding.

  • Please dip my pacifier in milk so I can practice sucking during tube feeds.

  • I am getting better at sucking, swallowing, and breathing at the same time.

  • Feeding is my hardest job. It may take time for me to learn.

  • Patience and support will help me learn how to eat.

Social/Emotional

  • I like to look at your face.

  • I like to hear your voice.

  • I love it when you are here to take care of me.

 

Back To Top >>

NICU Parents Discuss Having a Child in the NICU


Developmental Milestone Checklist

Click on the link below to view the Developmental Milestone Checklist. You can print off this checklist and use it to keep track of your child's milestones as he/she continues to grow and thrive.

View the checklist »

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000