Premature Babies and Their Parents: Different Beginnings

Due to a loss of support personnel, this course is not currently offered.

Recent research in the neurobiology of babies born prematurely has revealed distinct differences in the brain and its response to supporting the baby outside the womb. As well, the medical field continues to advance in uncovering new approaches to sustaining and promoting the life of these fragile babies, and in understanding what these babies need to thrive.

Parents of premature infants are typically burdened with the struggle of holding fear, worry and grief alongside hope as they transition into a new and uncertain role. In this course, compare and contrast the similarities and unique variations of early development in full-term infants and those born well before term.

Discover evidence-based practices and approaches of caring for premature newborns to help them achieve optimal development cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically once brought home. Develop strategies for communicating with parents in the wake of the uncertainties and emotional upheaval they may be facing. Leave this course equipped with the essential information and skills to share with parents as you offer them support in providing care to their premature infant.

Watch this brief video introduction to the course from instructor and textbook author Jolene Pearson.

Please note: The course Nurturing Healthy Development in the Earliest Months is not a pre-requisite. However, we do strongly encourage students to complete this course as well in order to better understand the differences between infants born full-term and those arriving prematurely.

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Earn 20 clock hours

This course is not currently offered.

Required textbook

Pearson, J. (2016). Pathways to positive parenting: Helping parents nurture healthy development in the earliest month. Zero to Three.

This book can be purchased from Zero to Three. Please order in advance so that you have the book by the start date of the session.

Learning objectives

  • Gain an understanding of infant mental principles and their critical role in establishing a foundation in both premature and full-term infants for healthy development in over the life course.
  • Understand the notable difference and similarities of premature infants found within the common pathways associated with newborn behaviors and needs.
  • Prepare to help parents identify their premature infant’s communication cues and capabilities via the pathways.
  • Learn how to empower parents, demonstrate support, and best address their questions, thoughts, and concerns arising from the transition into parenthood and caring for a vulnerable infant.
  • Explore how this information may be used in a variety of early childhood fields.

Who should register

  • Early educators
  • Early interventionists
  • Infant mental health practitioners
  • Physicians
  • Parent educators
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Allied health professionals
  • Other professionals who would like to better understand early infant development, parent education, and parent-infant relationships

This online course is approved by the Minnesota Center for Professional Development to count toward career lattice steps. It also is approved by the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) for their members (ICEA accepts a maximum of 24 clock hours per course).

What to expect

  • The course is instructor-led with feedback and interactions provided.
  • All activities and assignments for this course are asynchronous and online. Nothing takes place in real time.
  • You have access to the course site 24/7 and can fit your work on the course into your schedule.
  • Activities and assignments include readings, videos, discussion board, recording videos using an online tool called Flipgrid, and reflection papers.
  • You are expected to participate fully and abide by weekly submission due dates for assignments and activities.

Knowledge and competency areas

The early childhood competencies are those used by MN – ACHIEVE’s knowledge and competencies framework.

  • Relationships with families
  • Child development and learning
  • Creating positive learning experiences
  • Promoting social and emotional development
  • Observing, recording, and assessing development
  • Establishing healthy practices

Meet the instructor

Headshot of Jolene PearsonJolene Pearson

Jolene Pearson, PhD, IMH-E® (IV), holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota. She earned a BS from the University of Minnesota in child development, and an MS in early childhood from Wheelock College in Massachusetts. Jolene is an associate professor and the director of the early childhood education program at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. She has been an adjunct faculty member and instructor at the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, and St. Cloud State University, teaching courses in parent education, infant mental health, and early childhood special education. Dr. Pearson is a certified Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale examiner and holds licenses in the fields of parent education, early childhood education, and early childhood special education. She has authored a book, Pathways to Positive Parenting: Helping Parents Nurture Healthy Development in the Earliest Months (Zero to Three, 2016).

Cancellation Policy

  • Cancellation two weeks or earlier before the start of the session: Full refund less $25 administrative fee
  • Cancellation less than two weeks before the start of the session: No refund will be provided.

To cancel, send an email to Deborah Ottman.

CEED reserves the right to refuse/cancel a registration due to low enrollment, a prerequisite not completed, or other circumstances making the registration nonviable. In the event of a course cancellation, registrants have the option to receive a full refund OR to transfer the registration to the same course held in a future session. CEED will accept substitutions for attendees.


Contact Deborah Ottman, professional development coordinator.

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