University of Minnesota
Driven to Discover

Premature Babies and Their Parents:
Information and Insights for Early Intervention Personnel

EDHD 5300 011 89338
Earn a Continuing Education Certificate (84 clock hours) or 2 Academic Credits

Next session: June 6 to August 8, 2016

In 2007, the State of Minnesota adopted criteria for early intervention that automatically includes all infants born weighing 3 lbs. 5 oz. or less (under 1500 grams). This means that many families are referred to early intervention soon after their babies are discharged from the hospital, some even before. Early interventionists must be prepared to offer the right information and support to families and be able suggest activities that will promote the pre-term infant’s development in an individualized manner. 

This course is designed to enhance the skills of early intervention professionals by providing them with background information about the experiences of parents who have given birth prematurely, the effect of premature birth on the infant’s behavior and development, information about developmental care, and other research-based strategies proven to enhance the child’s development and offer both parent education curricula as well as implementation strategies.

Participants will learn important information about pre-term infants, the experiences of their parents and will learn to be better able to provide both information and support to parents of infants born prematurely.

Course objectives are to:

  • Become more knowledgeable about the development of both full-term and pre-term infants.
  • Gain an understanding of how a premature birth impacts the infant, the parent and their early relationship.
  • Learn how to offer support and identify key information to share with parents of preterm babies.
  • Identify resources to educate, inform and support parents of prematurely born children.
  • Identify interventions that are designed to help preterm infant develop their social, cognitive, self-help, gross and fine motor skills.

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

International students are welcome!


For 84 clock hours: $800, plus required materials*

For 2 academic credits: $800 plus required materials*

*See Required Materials below

Registration Information

To register for clock hours:

  1. Please read important information in About Online Courses.
  2. Register and pay online. You will receive a confirmation of registration.
  3. You will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site, on the Friday before the session begins.

To register for academic credit:

There is a two-step registration process. You must complete both steps in order to fully and completely register for this course. You will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site, on the Friday before the session begins.

  • Degree-seeking students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota may not use our for-credit courses toward their degree program. Should a currently enrolled student choose to register for academic credit, the student may be subjected to additional University fees.
  • Degree-seeking students enrolled in schools other than the University of Minnesota wishing to use our course as an elective must directly seek prior approval from their degree program.


  1. Please read important information in About Online Courses.
  2. Register online.
  3. Complete and submit the Registration Request for Graduate Credit form. Complete the highlighted sections (e.g., do NOT register via OneStop; send your Grad Credit Request form to CEED, not the University. Questions? Contact Karen Anderson at To register for summer session: This form must be received in CEED's office by May 30, 2016. CEED will obtain the appropriate approval signatures and forward your form to One Stop Student Services.
  4. When the University processes your request form, you will receive a confirmation from One Stop Student Services with information regarding your student account and payment. You must activate your student account to make your payment.
  5. On the Friday before the session begins, you will be emailed getting started instructions, including how to access the course site.

Required Materials

Please purchase the following required materials:

  1. Textbook: Pearson, J. (2016). Pathways to positive parenting:Helping parents nurture healthy development in the earliest month. Zero to Three. This book is now available Zero to Three:
  2. Book (2nd edition): Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, by Wechsler Liden, Paroli, & Wechsler Doron. ISBN-13: 978-0671034917. Available on
  3. Growing Sophia​, by Rochelle Barsuhn. ISBN-10: 0615183522. ISBN-13: 978-0615183527. Available on
  4. Please purchase this publication from March of Dimes: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, ​by ​Wechsler Linden, Paroli, & Wechsler Doron. More information on the book is available at Call the March of Dimes Fulfillment Center at 800-367-6630 to order this book.

Joann O'Leary, Instructor

Joann O'Leary Joann O’Leary is a consultant in the area of prenatal parenting and the early years of life. She has spent her career working with childbearing families, both in low risk and high risk pregnancies. Her background includes as an LPN in NICU, an infant teacher/parent coordinator in a Special Education and a Parent-Infant Specialist in a high risk perinatal center. She has a PhD is in Work, Community and Family Education, a Masters in Psychology from Queens University, Belfast, NI and an MPH in Maternal Child Health from the University of MN. She has done extensive research on pregnancy and parenting after the loss of a baby and spoken nationally and internationally on this topic.

Joann is teaching the CEED online course Premature Babies and Their Parents: Information and Insights for Early Intervention Personnel.

Testimonials from Participants

  • "'Premature Babies and Their Parents' gave me new insights into the art of home visiting, practical tools to use in the field, improved my understanding of premature infant development, expanded my knowledge of what parents go through, and helped to renew my desire in working for families and their children who have special needs."
  • "I would recommend this course in its entirety to anyone who works with parents of prematurely born infants. The varied resources and presentations were extremely helpful to me."
  • "I’m not sure where my professional journey will take me next but I do know that I will take the knowledge from this class and the stories of these families along with me as I go."
  • "I found the 'Premature Babies and Their Parents' course to be excellent. I learned many new facts and pointers as well as valuable insights into the world of the NICU and premature births. The readings associated with the modules provided nice support to the video learning." 
  • "I have truly enjoyed how well this course is put together.... Every aspect of the course has been easy for me to access. It was structured well each week and we had excellent access to everything needed."
  • During the 2007-08 school year, 32 staff from the Minneapolis Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program took this course in person. Here is what they said.

Related Resources

Upcoming Sessions

  • Summer 2016: June 6 to August 8, 2016
  • Fall 2016: September 19 to November 21, 2016


Contact Karen Anderson, CEED Online Course Manager, at or 612-625-6617.

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.