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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Checklist for the NICU

It’s pretty hard trying to think about what you need and what you should do while your premmie baby is in the NICU. We’ve compiled a checklist of items you might need or want to bring to the hospital, as well as some practical tips that you may not have considered.

Things to Ask

  • Ask your nurse what clothing is most appropriate; you want something that is easy to get on and off especially if your baby requires help breathing. You may not be able to clothe your baby straight away but the nurses will let you know when it’s ok.
  • Ask what you can do to help care for your baby; like bed baths, changing nappies, kangaroo care, and baby massage.
  • Ask about the machines if you’re not sure what they do.
  • Ask about information or training sessions; some hospitals provide training for tube feeding or other care based tasks.
  • Ask for foot and hand prints if you want them.
  • Ask if the NICU has a video camera; some hospital have one for families to use and just ask that your bring your own film.
  • Ask if you can get free parking at the hospital; some hospitals offer parking discounts for families of long-term patients
  • Ask if the hospital offers meals or meal vouchers.
  • Ask if there is accommodation nearby if you live a long way from the hospital; you may qualify for accommodation at the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Ask what the restrictions are on visitors; of course you’re entitled to place your own restrictions on how many family members and friends you want around at any one time.
  • Ask any of the above again, if you forget the answer or you just need clarification.

Things to bring

  • Preemie sized clothing, pop your baby’s name on it in case it goes missing
  • A bag for dirty clothes
  • An expressing kit; sterile bottles, containers, and jars, shields, valves and tubing for the pump, cooler bag, electric or hand pump
  • Your baby’s hospital labels and pen
  • Tissues; the nurseries seem to run out often
  • A camera; as well as taking photos of your baby some parents like to take a few of the NICU and the medical equipment so they can document their baby’s progress. Some families like to put other items in the picture with their preemie to get a size comparison, for example, a teddy bear, your hand, or ring
  • A journal; you can jot down things as they happen, record any changes, include medical information like how much oxygen, types of treatment, weight, or anything else you feel like recording
  • A frozen meal; can be a easy alternative for lunch or dinner and can act as your cool pack for transporting your expressed breast milk
  • Hand moisturiser; you’ll find that you will have to wash your hands with antiseptic hand wash many times in a day, which can dry out your hands so a small tube of moisturiser can be a good remedy

Various other tips

  • If you’ve had twins or triplets, some parents like to put a specific toy with each of their babies when they take photographs, (e.g. a different colour for each baby) so that down the track it is easy to see who is who in each photo
  • Keep a diary or journal; you can include all the medical information about your baby, as well as what you’re thinking and feeling. Some parents report that it gives them a really good way of venting and keeping track of changes over time.
  • Seek psychological support if you need it; the hospital may have a social worker you can talk to (check the Solutions section of this website for options)
  • Check the hospital noticeboards for information for parents and family; there may be information sessions or morning teas you might like to attend
  • Decorate your baby’s space to make your surroundings feel a little more personal
  • Post a page for your preemie on Preemiehelp to keep everyone in touch.

Where to get thing especially for prems?

Suggestions and Links coming soon.



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.

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