Being a parent in the NICU often feels like you are a visitor to your own child. You are not! Talk with your baby’s care team about opportunities to spend hands-on time with your baby and step into your role as parent. However, be sure to let your baby’s actions set the pace for your time together. For example, if your baby is crying, it might be time for a feeding or to try kangaroo care.
Parents Are Great Medicine For Their Babies
As parents, there are things only YOU can do to help your baby. Your breast milk, your touch, or your voice literally act like medicine to help your fragile baby heal. Being close with your baby helps him or her grow best, so your time on the unit is very important and special.
The Power Of Touch
- Giving skin-to-skin care, like “kangaroo care” (Picture 1)
- Giving your baby a bath
- Hand containment during cares (Picture 2)
- Holding your baby’s hand
- Stroking his or her head or giving gentle, consistent touch to baby
Activities To Do With Your Baby
- Breastfeeding, pumping milk, and bottle feeding.
- Changing your baby’s diapers.
- Taking your baby’s temperature.
- Weighing your baby.
- Going to therapy sessions with feeding specialists or developmental therapists.
- Talking and singing to your baby.
- Listening to music with your baby for peace and healing.
- Calm music drowns out sounds of alarms, machines and beeping.
- Leaving a blanket or small item you have worn close to your body that has your scent to help your baby recognize you.
- Dressing your baby in special clothes and blankets you have brought.
- Capturing the moments by keeping a journal and taking a lot of pictures.
- If allowed by your NICU staff, decorate your baby’s area and crib or isolette to make it feel more like home. A name sign, crib toys, photos, cards or sibling’s drawings may help make it more like home and add a personal touch.
- Celebrating your baby! Remember, you are a new parent, and this is a special time even if it is not what you expected. However, make sure your baby has time to get good sleep by keeping noise and bright lights low during these times.
Kangaroo care has so many benefits for your baby that include:
- Keeping your baby warm
- Helping with your baby’s vitals, like temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate
- Better brain development and reducing stress
- Better sleep
- Better weight gain
- Less time spent in the NICU
- Helps you bond with your baby
- Helps increase milk production
- Gives you confidence to care for your baby at the NICU and at home