10 things you can do for your baby on the neonatal unit

Dad looking over his sleeping baby while holding a syringe of milk above the baby to allow tube feeding

Sometimes on the neonatal unit it can feel like the doctors and nurses are the ones looking after your baby, but there are lots of ways you can and should be involved in their care. Here are ten things you can do for your baby to make sure you’re not missing out on precious moments together.

1. Watch your baby
This is how you get to know how they are feeling, so ask for chairs so that you can sit close by.

2. Ask questions
If you phone up to ask about your baby, ask detailed questions like if they have slept well or eaten enough so that you have a full picture of how they are.

3. Touch your baby
Your baby may find it soothing to grasp your finger or feel the gentle pressure of your hands resting on their body, their head, or cupping their feet.

4. Feed your baby
Even if your baby is still tube fed it should be possible for you to be involved with feeding from an early stage

5. Ask to do daily cares
Activities like cleaning your baby’s mouth and changing their nappy will be opportunities for you to get to know each other. Policies vary from unit to unit but ask early on when you can be involved with activities like this.

6. Do the first bath
Your baby’s first bath is a very special moment. Ask the nurses to plan the first bath with you so that you can do it with their support.

7. Skin-to-skin-contact
Skin-to-skin, often referred to as kangaroo care, means holding your baby close against your chest. It has lots of benefits for babies and is a special activity for parents.

8. Comfort your baby during procedures
When your baby needs medical or nursing procedures ask how you can help to comfort your baby.

9. Ask your doctor or nurse explain things you don’t understand
There really is no such thing as a silly question, especially when it’s about your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse to explain terms or procedures you don’t understand.

10. Talk and sing
Talk, sing or read to your baby. If they are in an incubator ask if one of the portholes can be opened so that your baby can hear you more easily.