For parents, having a kid in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be terrifying or stressful. While your newborn receives lifesaving support from NICU equipment and qualified personnel, you may struggle to assume your parental role or may feel fearful, helpless, or uncertain.
Understanding the NICU’s inner workings and connecting with available support can help you build confidence, identify ways to contribute, and develop into an advocate for yourself and your kid. Additional information is available via the resources listed below.
Parenting Tips for Developing Caregiving Skills with a NICU Baby
Understand your parental rights, including what you can want and anticipate throughout your baby’s time in the NICU; the NICU Baby’s Bill of Rights may be helpful.
Practice routine infant care, such as changing clothes and bathing; inform your neonatal nurse practitioner or other provider if and when you are ready to master these skills.
If time permits, take care of your baby’s laundry; some parents report that washing and returning their baby’s clothes to the NICU makes them feel more connected.
When feasible, be there throughout feeding and bathing times, and collaborate with your nurse to ensure your participation.
Contact the lactation consultant at your hospital, if one is available, to develop a plan for feeding your baby at home.
Choose the pediatrician who will assist you in caring for your baby following his or her stay in the NICU.
Notify your insurance provider of your intention to add your infant to your policy.
FOOD MANAGEMENT (NICU AND BREASTFEEDING, BOTTLE FEEDING AND FORMULA)
Breastfeeding | Office on Women’s Health: A one-stop shop for nursing information, including breastfeeding positions and pumping and storing milk.
Breastfeeding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Information from a Lactation Consultant | Hand to Hold: Practical advice for women breastfeeding premature babies, as well as suggestions for supportive loved ones.
Feeding Difficulties and Your Preemie | Hand to Hold: Information about feeding issues and feeding treatment that a premature baby may require throughout the first days and months of life.
Feeding Your Baby Following a NICU Stay | March of Dimes: Answers to frequently asked concerns about feeding preemies following a NICU stay, including how to determine when your baby is full and where to find help.
Feeding Your Baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit | March of Dimes: Description of infant feeding options in the NICU, including breastfeeding, bottle feeding, a feeding tube, or an intravenous line (IV).
Find a Lactation Consultant | International Lactation Consultant Association: Online directory of board-certified lactation consultants and their services, as well as information on prices and medical coverage.
How to Bottle Feed a Preemie |: Six recommendations from a registered nurse in a tertiary-level neonatal intensive care unit for bottle feeding a premature infant.
La Leche League Online Support Resources | LLLI: A collection of online breastfeeding resources for families worldwide, including virtual support groups which is very helpful during the pandemic, publications, and printable toolkits.
Nourishing Your Premature Baby in the NICU | Hand to Hold: A neonatal registered dietitian discusses the nutrition and growth processes that are particular to premature infants.
Practical Bottle Feeding Tips | American Academy of Pediatrics: Eight tips for bottle feeding a newborn safely and successfully.