Monday, March 9, 2009

Ways of Interacting with Your NICU Newborn

NICU Parents often feel more like visitors than the parents of their NICU newborn. They may even resent the NICU Team caring for their baby.

One way to help NICU Parents feel more like Parents is to find ways that they can interact with their new baby.

Empowering parents to "do something" that can uniquely contribute to the care of their baby can be very helpful in overcoming the feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Ways to Interact with Your NICU Newborn
There are many special loving ways for NICU Parents to interact with your baby and let him or her know you are there and you care.

Here some suggestions taken from the
Free NICU eBook For Those Who Hold the Littlest Hands:
  • Gently stroke or caress your baby. See how your baby responds. Be aware that some NICU babies do not like too much handling. You may just want to touch him or her.
  • Lovingly hold your baby's foot or hand.
  • Talk, read or sing quietly to your baby.
  • Supply your baby with breast milk if possible.
  • Write down your hopes as a poem or a blessing. Share your writings with your baby.
  • Decorate your baby's incubator with washable toys, family pictures, cards, email messages & other special mementos. Make it a home away from home.
  • Encourage your NICU baby to open his or her eyes by shielding your baby's face from the bright lights. This lets your baby look at you and around his or her environment.
  • Kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) contact has been shown to help NICU babies thrive. Learn about this beneficial treatment. Check with the hospital’s use of Kangaroo care.
  • Once your baby is doing better and his or her condition has stabilized, learn how to hold and rock your baby out of the isolette.
Parents Play a Special Role
NICU Parents need to realize that their role as parents is a special and irreplaceable one. Your voice, their touch and their presence are unique, familiar and reassuring for your baby.

These special parent features will bring comfort to the NICU baby and let him or her feel loved.

Dyer K. 2005. Identifying, Understanding and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part II: Strategies. Neonatal Network. 24 (4): 27 – 39.

Image Source: Jason Kastanje. Baby's Hand.
Royalty Free Use.

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