Do you have a child who was born premature?
Are you worried that your premature baby is developing issues with speech that might mean they’re falling behind?
If so, District Speech offers speech therapy for kids that can help your child overcome these issues during their vital stages of development.
In particular, early intervention speech therapy can be especially effective in is a tool that may help ensure your child gets the attention and guidance needed as they grow.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at some of the speech issues common in premature babies, and how our Washington DC speech and language therapy clinic can help.
What Is A Premature Baby?
A premature baby (also known as a preterm baby) is one born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
The earlier the baby is born, the higher the risks can be.
If your baby was born earlier than 33 weeks or had a birth weight of under 3 lbs 5 oz, the risks for disability and developmental concerns increase even more.
Some short term risks can include breathing or intestinal issues.
Long term problems for your preterm baby may involve hitting developmental milestones later than usual.
Some of these developmental milestones include speech, which is why speech therapy for premature babies is so important.
What Causes A Premature Baby?
While all of the factors that contribute to premature births aren’t known, there are some risk factors you should be aware of.
Pregnancy complications, short periods of time between pregnancies, and being pregnant with multiples are all considered risk factors.
Substances and tobacco use are also huge risks that can lead to premature birth.
However, it’s important to know that you can have a premature birth even with no risk factors, and that there is help for you if you gave or do give birth to a preterm baby.
Signs Your Premature Baby Has A Speech Or Language Disorder
One of the things to look out for in your premature baby is if they’re developing a speech or language disorder.
What are some of the signs this may be happening?
Keep track of the major speech milestones for your child’s age group, and make sure to add a few months to account for your baby being premature.
A child’s first words are usually said between 14 and 20 months, and by two they can usually construct two word sentences.
While all children develop differently, if you’re worried your child isn’t hitting the usual milestones, it’s great to get speech therapists involved early on.
Here are some of the signs your baby may have a speech or language disorder.
1. Hearing Loss
Sometimes, a lack of speech may be a sign that your baby isn’t hearing well.
This might be something simple, like ear wax buildup.
Hearing loss is important to catch early on so your baby does not fall behind.
If you think hearing loss has affected your child’s speech development, a hearing loss speech therapist can help.
2. Speech That’s Difficult To Understand
Are you having trouble understanding your child?
Your child may have trouble expressing themself, especially when trying to communicate an opinion or tell a story.
Sometimes when this happens, your child may even get so frustrated they stop trying to talk with you.
Sound production can also be an issue in premature babies, which means your baby may have trouble making certain sounds.
This can make speech harder to understand.
It’s worth noting, however, that distorted speech can be a sign of other speech disorders, including:
3. A Small Vocabulary
Do you feel like your child isn’t speaking as many words as other children their age?
For premature babies, this can very well be the case.
It’s good to get an idea of how many words your child should know at their age.
A speech therapist could help you determine this even at an early stage of development.
4. Not Meeting Developmental Milestones
We mentioned before that it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the developmental milestone for your child’s age group.
While every child is different, here are some age-related milestones you can keep an eye on for your premature baby:
- Four months – starts babbling
- Twelve months – may say at least one word
- Eighteen months – vocabulary of 10-20 words
- Two years – can form short sentences
While delays are to be expected with your premature baby, monitoring these developmental milestones can help you make a decision about getting intervention for your child.
The Importance Of Early Intervention
Early intervention can be critical in making sure your premature baby gets the help they need.
As your baby’s brain develops, it is forming new neural pathways, especially before the age of three.
With early intervention, the effects of the issues your premature baby may be encountering can be lessened.
The younger your child is, the easier it will be for them to adapt to the use of new speech techniques.
Early intervention speech therapy can be a critical tool in helping your premature baby reach their developmental milestones.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
Are you worried that your premature baby is struggling with their language and speech?
Here at District Speech, our speech therapists can help you tackle these issues head on, so you don’t have to worry.
Contact District Speech today to get set up with a speech therapist.
You and your premature child do not have to face these challenges alone.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.