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About Little Steps ®

Little Steps® was founded by Dr Welma Lubbe in 2004 when she worked in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and realised that the parents of the tiny premmies in the incubators so longed for a baby to hold and care for and now their precious baby was lying in a hospital bed, connected to tubes and wires and cared for by strangers.  Welma experienced that parenting was especially challenging for these parents, due to the premmie’s illness and specialised care being provided by nurses and doctors.  Parent’s often felt that their baby(s) ‘belong to the hospital’ and they only took on their parenting role once they took their little one home. 

Although the nurses and doctors came to love each premmie dearly, these tiny persons were still their parents’ children and not ‘hospital property’.  Welma realised that as a healthcare professional and an advocate for her patients, she was in the ideal position to make a difference and return the parenting role to parents of preterm babies.

The Little Steps® Preterm Baby Support concept was launched in 2004, starting with a South African website for parents with premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This website was the first research-based parenting website on the topic of prematurity in South Africa.  Together with the website, Welma started premmie parenting workshops to provide parents with the information they needed to understand and care for their little ones.  These workshops included information on fetal development, the NICU as a new world for parents and premature babies, interaction with preterm babies including handling, bathing, feeding, skin-to-skin care and much more.  It further addressed questions that arise when taking a preterm baby home and what to expect after discharge.

Parents were very positive about the information and support they received through Little Steps.  One couple wrote that they’ve learned more in three hours than during 60 days in the NICU.  They were however also concerned that the staff caring for their babies did not know what they as parents have learned and this led to the development of the professional training program – the second part of the Little Steps concept.

Little Steps® presents training for health care professionals on different levels (more detail under the professional section).  However, briefly viewing the professional training the following can be highlighted.  Little Steps® training on neurodevelopmental supportive care of the preterm infant is currently presented in conjunction with the North-West University (NWU) as a four-day workshop.  This training is followed by the Little Steps® Premmie Parenting Facilitator program, where healthcare professionals are taught how to guide and support parents through this roller-coaster experience of preterm birth.  An introductory seminar on the topic of neurodevelopmental supportive care of the preterm infant is also available, as well as various lectures as presented in the professional section.  This training is CPD accredited with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and delegates also receive an attendance certificate from the NWU.

Little Steps® proudly base their services, training and products on sound research evidence.  This research is the work of experts in the field of newborn development over many years, including professionals from various disciplines such as Dr Heidelise Als and other NIDCAP trainers, Dr’s Klaus and Kenner, Dr Brazelton, Dr Nils Bergman, Jean Ayres and CarolKranowitz, to mention a few.

Finally, Little Steps® became involved in the source and distribution of products for preterm babies that is in line with the principles and best available evidence on developmental care.  Although the main focus of Little Steps® is to provide information and support services for preterm infants, their families and health care professionals working with premmies, it became evident that products with supportive characteristics are not readily available in South Africa.  As a result Little Steps® Premmies emerged and are now under the management of Mrs Annelie van der Westhuyzen, who provide excellent support to both parents and professionals in this regard.  This website provides an online shop for parents, and hospitals and professionals can order directly from Little Steps (see shop section).

At Little Steps® it is our passion to make the preterm birth and baby journey a special one by providing information and support.  We strive to support you as parents and professionals to fulfil your unique role in the life of each preterm baby you are involved with and believe that by doing this each of them will have the best possible chance to excel in life.  

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