For Octomom, the Challenge Has Just Begun

I was very happy to learn Tuesday that the last of the Suleman octuplets is finally home to be with his brothers and sisters. Jonah a• the last to be sent home a• was the smallest of the bunch, weighing just 1 pound 8 ounces when they were born nine weeks early.

Click here to see pictures of Jonah and his siblings.

But now, the real challenge begins. Let us not forget that these infants were premature and that this last baby stayed in the hospital for almost 12 weeks. There is a lot of data that has been published and analyzed looking at some of the hurdles that premature babies must overcome in their early years.

To me a• as a person who delivers babies for a living a• I also have three of my own a• I am aware of the significance of paying attention to the way kids grow and develop, and how important that attention is in preventing some of these children from failing to meet their full potential.

For parents of full-term infants, paying close attention to developmental milestones is sometimes an afterthought. But for parents of premature babies, keeping track of movement, visual, social and developmental milestones could make a world of difference in identifying problems and finding solutions to meet their needs.

Most premature babies meet their milestones and catch up by the age of 2. But depending on how early an infant is born, their development may lag anywhere from 6-8 weeks in development usually during the first year of life.

It's important to use your child's adjusted agewhen tracking his or her development. For example, if your baby is 21 weeks old, but was born five weeks early, his or her adjusted ageis 16 weeks (or 4 months).

Now let's take a look at some of the milestones the American Academy of Pediatrics says parents can look out for around 16 weeks...

Motor: o Brings hands together, or to mouth o Lifts head and pushes on arms when on tummy o Reaches for objects o Turns or makes crawling movement when on tummy

Language: o Turns head to follow familiar voices o Laughs and squeals o Combines sounds more often (for example, "aaah-oooh", "gaaa-gooo")

Activities: o Grasps more and reaches for objects o Brings objects to mouth o Increases activity when sees a toy

Social/Emotional: o Is increasingly interactive and comfortable with parents and caregivers o Shows interest in mirrors, smiles and is playful o Is able to comfort himself

For more guidelines and milestones at different ages, click here.

Remember: Always watch for progress and do not be afraid to ask for help from doctors, teachers or other family members.

Again, I am pleased that all eight of the children have made it home safe a• I just hope that Nadya Suleman pays as much attention to their progress as she has to publicizing their births, because it should alwaysbe about the kids.