Parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

In most cases, you can be with your baby in the NICU at any time. The staff of the NICU will give you instructions on special hand washing techniques before entering the area. Sometimes, masks are needed. Occasionally, during a procedure, or when the hospital staff are making “rounds,” parents may be asked to wait for a few minutes before coming into the area. Although most NICUs permit visitation of babies by other family members, limiting visitors is a good idea. Many sick and premature babies are very susceptible to infection. Siblings should be carefully checked for signs of colds or other illness and be helped with hand washing before visiting their baby brother or sister.

Most parents find that becoming involved with their baby’s care gives them a sense of control and helps them become closer to their baby. This is also important for the baby, helping the baby feel secure and loved. Once a baby’s condition is stable, parents are encouraged to hold and rock them. Staff in the NICU can show you how to care for your baby in many ways. Learning these aspects of care is helpful in preparing you to take your baby home.

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