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Successful social and emotional development is grounded in Infant Mental Health.  This once, ludicrous notion, is gaining wider recognition and acceptance, as neuroscience adds weight to what the social sciences have long understood.  We are social beings, driven by our most basic needs, to love and to belong.  And, this sense of love and belonging comes from the relationships we have with others and the quality of those relationships.  We have long moved on from the nature verses nurture debate and now know, we can absolutely nurture nature. This explains why Prems born into families where there is a nurtured and enriched environment do so much better than those who are not.  

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The priority for Prems at birth is survival, however, the price paid is that they are exposed to early traumatic experience. The trauma is two fold; physical, with crucial medical interventions and social-emotional, with separation from parents.  It’s worth mentioning here that in the NICUs of Sweden, mother and baby are nursed in the same room sidestepping the emotional trauma of separation.  I do dare to dream this for NICUs the world over.  
Neuroscience research shows it is experience that shapes the brain; genetics pave out potential but do not control thoughts, feelings or behaviour.  The early traumatic experience for Prems, changes the way the brain develops and not surprisingly, this can effect social and emotional development.  

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It was such a beautiful day in Melbourne for the 2012 Walk for Prems.  As we handed out flyers (for our upcoming Information Evening - November 15th) I was explaining that we, at ReadyStepGrow™, were aiming to bring together Developmental Play Groups.  One proud Dad replied, "Been there, done that!” and it was fantastic to know that such a proactive pathway for his Prem had already taken place.
But again, I question – what of Prems not entitled to follow up (over 30 weeks)?  And, what if your Prem is followed up, yet you are not experiencing expertise specifically related to prematurity?  
I do not want to be alarmist, but Prems are at increased risk of behavioural and learning difficulties.  I have taught several Prems that have entered our schooling system and floundered. This sets up a downward spiral of negative feelings about learning, school and themselves in general. Parents have simply not seen it coming. 

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In the 14 years since I qualified as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, hundreds of tiny footprints have made their marks on my heart and across my mind.  Nurturing preterm or previously sick babies and their families is my passion.  I understand the layered emotional and psychological experiences of parents when their baby is born into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN).  When the layers are peeled back, I understand that the experience of NICU and SCN, is a situation like no other and this can impact on a baby's and family’s well-being in profound ways. Some years later, I moved into education.  In my time as a primary school teacher I was, and am still, drawn to the way our ex-prems present within the schooling system.  Their chronological age is right, but is their first, and most important year of school setting up these littlies in the best possible way?   Yes, our premature babies are surviving but are they thriving?



  • Aimie

    support for premature children Paediatric Occupational Therapist "I found the work you are doing to support premature children and their families, so inspiring. From Read More
  • Andrea

    Sia born at 30 weeks Sia was born in her 30th week. The hospital did everything they could to stop her but she had a Read More
  • Asha & Maya's story

    Asha & Maya's story ReadyStepGrow "helped reduce my girl's separation anxiety and their need to be physically with me all the time, it increased Read More
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Tue Jun 27, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Tuesday Toddlers (Term 2 2017)
Tue Jul 18, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Pre-Kindy (Term 3 2017)
Tue Jul 18, 2017 @11:45 - 01:15PM
Tue Baby Prems (Term 3 2017)
Wed Jul 19, 2017 @10:00 - 11:30AM
Toddlers (Term 3 2017)
Wed Jul 19, 2017 @11:45 - 01:15PM
Tiny Premmies (Term 3 2017)

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