Graduates of the NICU are often at risk for delays in development. The NICU follow-up clinic is designed to monitor your infant's development and to provide you, the parent, with instruction and education. Your child’s first appointment at the follow-up clinic generally will be when your child has reached six months adjusted age (based on your original due date).
Your baby’s hour-long appointment will be a fun play time! Physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as a specialist from the Child Development Center, will assess your infant by engaging him or her at play. They will use the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development to assess gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory processing, prelanguage skills and social/interaction skills. A NICU nurse will check your baby’s growth and a dietician will be available to answer any questions you may have about your infant’s diet or eating habits. Parents are encouraged to participate during the visits, so it is a perfect opportunity for you to receive instructions and additional education related to your infant's development.
Referrals for the NICU follow-up clinic are made by the neonatologist or primary doctor when your infant is discharged from the NICU, or can be made by your child’s physician anytime a delay is suspected.
The results and recommendations are discussed with the parent(s) during the clinic visit, and a written report is provided to both the family and the referring doctor.
Follow-Up Clinic Photo Gallery
The therapists at the NICU follow-up clinic use a standardized tool called the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development to evaluate your child’s development based on his or her adjusted age (the age your child would be if born on their actual due date). Once your child reaches 24 months of age, adjustments for prematurity are no longer made.
The Bayley-III has three major areas for testing:
- Cognitive (how your child thinks, reacts and learns)
- Language (understanding and communicating)
- Motor skills (body movements and use of the fingers and hands)
The Bayley assessment is completed by observing your child at play, as well as by asking parents or other caregivers about some tasks that may not be exhibited during the one-hour interaction, such as sleeping and eating patterns. Keep in mind that scores can be influenced by motivation, attention span, illness and interrupted sleep. The therapists take this into consideration when performing their evaluations.
Some of the tasks that your child will be asked to do may seem very easy, while others may seem very difficult. It is not expected that any child will do well on every activity, as we all develop our skills at different paces. The scores on the Bayley assessment are just tools to help assure you that your child is progressing at an expected pace or to provide guidance for areas that may benefit from focused attention, either at home or, occasionally, with a pediatric therapist