Session 1–Premature Babies and Their Parents: Providing Information and Support to Promote Optimal Development

Our blog post looking back at this year’s MN Early Intervention Summer Institute shares takeaways from “Premature Babies and Their Parents,” presented by Dr. Jolene Pearson. Dr. Pearson brought some adorable assistants along: “teaching teddies” that early childhood professionals can use to model infant care for parents!

This session was designed to enhance the skills of early intervention professionals by overlaying the experiences and concerns of parents with evidence-based best practices. There was a particular focus adapting practices from *Developmental Care practice. Principles from infant mental health were utilized to create thoughtful, informed responses to questions and concerns of parents and curate a web-based resource tool-kit.

Session objectives

In this session, participants:

  • Gained critical insights into the lived experiences of parents who have given birth prematurely that reveal their needs, concerns and questions
  • Analyzed implications of current research-based information on the short and long-term effects of premature birth on the infant’s behavior and development
  • Adapted strategies from Developmental Care Practices* used in the neonatal intensive care unit to enhance the development of pre-term infants post-discharge
  • Developed conversation pathways for delivering information and educating parents based on current research and best practices
  • Curated a tool-kit of web-based resources

*Individualized developmental care improves the lives of infants born pre-term. (Butler & Als, 2008)

Intended audience

0-3 professionals

Intended skill level

New and experienced 0-3 professionals


Jolene Pearson

Jolene PearsonJolene Pearson, PhD, IMH-E® (IV), is an Associate Professor and Director of the Early Childhood Teacher Preparation program at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. Dr. Pearson earned her MS from Wheelock College in Boston in Infant and Toddler Behavior and Development and completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction (Youth, Family and Community) at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Pearson is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Mentor, certified as Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale examiner and is licensed in the fields of Parent Education, Early Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Special Education. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health, and an adjunct instructor for the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Jolene is the author of the book Pathways to Positive Parenting, published by Zero to Three. She hosts a blog entitled: Developing Young Hearts & Minds – Early Childhood Teacher Preparation.