When you have a preemie, the question of how old they are can seem a little complicated. It makes sense though, once you understand it. Generally, a full term baby (40 weeks) is born and you determine how old they are from the day they are born. While this is also true for preemie babies, it isn’t the only way to look at their age. This is where adjusted age comes into play.
What is adjusted age?
Adjusted age is a preemie’s age based on their due date. Basically, you take however old they are from when they were born and subtract the amount of time that they were early. For example, my daughter was born 8 weeks early at 32 weeks gestation. So, when she was one week actual age she was 33 weeks adjusted. When she was six months actual age, she was adjusted to four months and so on. I was told to consider adjusted age until two years old.
I did quick google search for adjusted age calculators, and I liked the one I found on the My Monthly Cycles page. This can be helpful to check out if you are confused about figuring out adjusted age.
Why does adjusted age matter?
I think adjusted age is important when you are thinking about your preemie’s development. As parents, we are given guides and read about when to expect certain milestones to happen. When you have a preemie, these milestones may not happen when you expect them to.
For example, I knew to expect rolling from tummy to back at around four months. My daughter didn’t do this until she was six months old. This was stressful for me, because I didn’t want her to fall behind. But, when I was reminded to look at her adjusted age, she was four months which put her right on track for rolling.
Your doctor will help you with when to consider adjusted age. For us, we had to go by her adjusted age with introducing solid foods and transitioning off of formula. One doctor we saw also went by her adjusted age for her growth charts.
What should I say when someone asks how old my baby is?
This is really up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to answer this when you have a preemie. My answer would depend on how I was feeling that day and who was asking me. If it was a stranger I would usually tell them my daughter’s adjusted age because I didn’t feel like dealing with the conversation about how small she is. If you can believe it, I have had people tell me I had to be wrong about my daughter’s age because she was so small. Sometimes I would give the complicated answer that she was one age actual and another adjusted and sometimes I would just give her actual age.
Now that she’s almost two, I have stopped counting her adjusted age. She is still small, and people sometimes still don’t believe me when I tell them she is almost two. I’ve learned not to let this bother me as much (most of the time at least) and I know that I’m lucky to have this little miracle.
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