Parenting in the NICU - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

Learning about the NICU and ways of helping and bonding with your preemie can help you manage some of the stress and uncertainty associated with a preterm birth.


Finding special ways to connect & understand preterm birth

The joy of childbirth is often short-lived for parents of preterm babies. Isolation from your newborn, extended hospital stays, and the uncertainty associated with medical procedures, takes a massive emotional and physical toll. This section has been created to help you navigate your way through some tough times. It covers everything from family-centred care, tips on how to bond with your preemie, helping out in the NICU, what to bring, to learning to read your prem's body language


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Preemie baby bath time

Bathing is a special event for any parent and can be a wonderful way for you to bond with your baby. A little bit of forward planning can go a long way to making the occasion a lovely experience for both you and your preemie.

tips for a tear free bath time for preemie babies

Tips for a Tear Free Bath Time

  • Talk to your nurse about when you might be able to give your baby their first bath so you can plan ahead. You may wish to bring in specific items, arrange work schedules so mother and father can be present, and you may want to organise someone to take photographs.
  • For those parents who already have a child at home, you should have a chat to your nurse about how you would usually bath your child to find out what might be different for a preemie baby.
  • The NICU will likely have a doll for you to practice with before the actual event, your nurse or occupational therapist will probably demonstrate how to hold baby correctly but if they don’t ask.
  • Think about when the best time to bath your preemie baby is, try to choose a time that is quiet and calm.>
  • Set up your space so that there is soft lighting and you have everything you need before you start; towels, wash cloth, cotton wool, fresh nappy, clean clothes, dummy, bubble bath, and camera.
  • Discuss baby reactions with your nurse before bath time so you are aware of startles and stress responses.
  • Fill the bath so that there is enough water to cover your baby to their neck, add bubbles if you want to. Consult with your nurse about the water temperature.
  • Once the bath is ready undress your baby. You may wish to wrap your baby for their first bath as this can make them feel more secure and relaxed.
  • Talk to your baby before you start and explain to them you’re about to give them a bath. Always tell them what you’re going to do next.
  • Gently wash your baby’s face and hair – use moist cotton wool to clean eyelids from inner to outer eye. Use a new piece of cotton wool for each eye. Keep an eye on your baby’s reactions, having a bath as well as face and hair washing can be too much for some babies to deal with so you may decide to do them at different times.
  • Check water again to make sure it is warm enough.
  • With your baby loosely wrapped in a sheet, introduce them to the water slowly, feet first, and pausing allowing them to adjust to any signs of distress or discomfort.
  • Once your baby is contently immersed in the water allow them to relax
  • You can gradually loosen the wrapping if your baby seems content. Make sure your baby can reach the bottom of the bath to brace their feet. A second person can help by catching baby’s hands or feet if they startle
  • Keep an eye out for signs that your baby has had enough, such as yawning, hiccupping, breathing changes, or changes in skin colour.
  • It’s not important to wash your baby in the first bath, it’s more important that your baby enjoys the experience.
  • If your baby does become distressed offer them their dummy to help them stay calm.
  • Prepare to lift your baby from the bath, you should drape a towel over your chest, you could have this ready before you start bath time. Leave the wrap in the bath, lean over the bath and lift your baby onto the towel over your chest. Lift your baby in a semi-sided position, rather than completely on their back.
  • While you are drying and dressing your baby keep as much of your prem covered as possible.



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AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



New Release - Preemie Development

All in one easy to read eguide

‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

With an easy-to-read layout this comprehensive guide is over 130 pages of important information about the NICU and your preemie.

Using Adobe’s .pdf format makes the guide usable across a wide range of platforms from ipad to PC, smartphone to macbook.

Packed with extra features like progress charts, NICU checklists and plenty of others. ‘The preemie guide’ is a must for any new parents.