Premature babies need extra care, attention and warmth. Here are some things to do in the early days to help your baby thrive:

Limit visits: Visits outside the home should be limited to the doctor’s office for the first several weeks, especially if your baby is discharged during the winter months. Because doctors’ offices commonly have several kids with viral infections, try scheduling your appointment as the first of the day or request to wait in an examining room instead of the main waiting area. Ask the doctor how limited your baby’s contact with other kids and adults should be during these first weeks.

Avoid public places and some visitors: Most doctors recommend not visiting public places with premature babies. Limit visitors to your home: anyone who is ill should not visit, nobody should smoke in your home, and all visitors should wash their hands before touching the baby. Talk to your doctor about specific recommendations.

Put your baby to sleep on the back: Babies’ success at feeding and sleeping is important to their health. Expect your premature baby to sleep more than a full-term baby. All babies, including preemies, should be put to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Practice kangaroo care: Take advantage of these quiet weeks together to enjoy skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care. In a warm room at home, dress your infant in only a diaper, then place the baby on your chest and turn your baby’s head to one side so that his or her ear is against your heart. Research shows that kangaroo care can enhance parent-child bonding, promote breastfeeding, and improve a premature baby’s health.