Visiting your baby

It is normal for parents to have lots of questions about their child and the neonatal unit. Each unit will work slightly differently, but there are some standard policies that will apply wherever you have been admitted.

I’ve got a cold. Is it OK to visit my baby in hospital?

Different neonatal units will give you different advice on this. It is always essential to practice good hygiene, such as hand washing on arrival at the unit, to avoid passing on any viruses or germs.

As parents, your role in supporting your baby is essential. A decision to stay away or to be with your baby should be well thought out between you and the medical staff in the light of your baby’s current health.

The thought of this may seem unbearable, but if you do decide to stay away, look after yourself and you will have even more to offer your baby when you return.

I’m afraid to touch my baby. Is this normal?

It’s normal for you to feel this way. It will help you and your baby if you get to know each other. Your voice may already be familiar from when your baby was in the womb and your smell is unique. While the staff may be trying to handle your baby as little as possible to avoid over-stimulation, it’s good for you to spend some time talking to and touching your baby.

What can I do to get to know my baby better?

Positive touch is a way of communicating your love and reassurance to your baby and hearing your baby’s needs in return. Babies do communicate. By watching and listening to your baby, you can learn what kind of touch to use and when it is appropriate, safe and pleasurable for your baby. To start with you may find it much easier to recognise when your baby is over-stimulated or distressed. In time you will get to know your baby’s individual ways and your baby may respond to you more often.

There are several ways to give your baby an experience of positive touch. Still and containment holding is the most appropriate for very young or highly sensitive babies. Kangaroo care and baby massage may, in time, become appropriate.

For more information on comfort holding, Kangaroo care and baby massage, please click here.

When will my baby be able to come home?

This will vary for each individual baby. It depends on your baby’s birth weight and gestation as well as their medical condition at birth and throughout their stay in special care. As a very rough guide, most babies do not come home until they have reached their expected due date.

Look at me - I'm talking to you

Download our guide to watching and understanding your premature baby. Learn how to communicate messages of love and reassurance.