Parenting Your Preemie in the NICU

NICU staff will work with you to care for your baby until it is time for you to take your baby home. You can help your baby’s NICU team by observing your baby’s specific behaviors. Your baby’s behaviors tell us what is stressful to him and what is comforting. Through these observations, you will learn how your baby responds to his environment. You will also learn how your baby reacts to being handled and touched, his likes and dislikes, and how to comfort your baby through the journey.

Parent holding baby

Celebrate the Little Things

“My advice to new NICU parents is don’t let the fear steal your joy. Even in the darkest of times — find joy.” ~ Amy, a NICU mom

Every day may not be good … but there is something good in every day. Celebrate your baby’s milestones. You may want to keep a journal or a special memory book for your baby. Here are a few ideas in addition to your baby’s medical milestones to remember:

  • First times (heard a cry, changed a diaper, held, wore clothes, etc.)
  • Any type of graduation (incubator to crib, tube to breast/bottle, etc.)
  • Nicknames given to your baby
  • NICU neighbors

Things You Can Do For Your Baby

  • Refer to your baby by his name.
  • Begin to pump! You can provide the only nutrition that is made just for your baby. Your breast milk is very important for your baby’s immune system and will not only help your baby grow but will act as an important medication to help your baby grow well.
  • Leave a cloth or small blanket with your scent for your baby. Make sure to leave a new one every couple of days.
  • Bring a special blanket or a quilt from home to cover the incubator.
  • Ask if you can decorate your baby’s space. Bring pictures from home or siblings can draw a picture for the baby.
Drawing of baby feet

With time, you will come to know your baby’s own special language, his strengths and challenges, and what to do to give your baby the very best start possible.

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