What does adjusted age mean? What does "My baby is 6 months old, 4 months adjusted" represent and how do you figure this out? Does this apply for their whole life? When does it go away? When you have a preemie, there are so many things that are new and unknown. We want to help you along your journey and help answer some of these questions.
First, let's define Chronological age and Adjusted age.
1 - Chronological age is the age from the date of birth. The number of days, weeks, or years from the actual date of delivery.
2 - Adjusted age is based on the babies original due date. So if the baby is 6 months old, born two months early, the adjusted age would be 4 months.
The next most commonly asked question would be, "For how long do I adjust my babies age?"
Most preemies do "catch up" to their peers in 2 - 3 years. However, we know each individual baby is unique and will progress at their own spped. It may also depend on how early your baby was born. A micro preemie may take longer to "catch up" than a baby born only a few weeks early.
You can choose when to stop adjusting your child's age. You can even choose not to adjust their age at all; it is up to you as a parent. We do know that it is challenging when someone asks the age of your child and immediately you feel the need to explain why they may be smaller than expected. This may be the moment when you begin to use the adjusted age of your child on a regular basis. You can also feel free to say nothing, or share that your baby was born X weeks early. In a few years this really won't be much of an issue.
I have been aware of the adjusted age in regards to preemies for many years. However, recently I was reminded of the confusion it brings to new parents. Like so many things in the NICU and everything that is new with having a preemie, we have to learn a new set of vocabulary words and definitions.
I thought these parents also did an excellent job of trying to explain the essence of adjusted age when asked by a new preemie mom in this Facebook group:
If you have any suggestions on other preemie topics you would like us to answer, please feel free to drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading,