5 Things Your NICU Baby Wants You to Know

5 Things Your NICU Baby Wants You to Know | Baby Chick

5 Things Your NICU Baby Wants You to Know

Having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be a scary, emotional experience! As an occupational therapist in the NICU, I interviewed some babies and this is what they would like mommy and daddy to know.

NICU, baby chick, occupational therapist, OT

Photo credit to Amelia Giangiulio

1. I feel your energy as soon as you approach me.

As you come to the isolette or crib, think about the energy that you carry. Babies are very perceptive. Are you stressed, anxious, nervous, or hurried? Your baby will sense this. Take a deep breath before you approach your baby so you can be calm and serene as you come into their world. Talk in low voices, use gentle touch, and reassure your baby that you are calm and ready to care for them.

2. I cannot process too much information at once.

Babies are working very hard to take in all the information from their world. They need to process what they see, hear, feel, and taste all at once, and it is easier for them if they only need to process these senses one at a time. If your baby is focusing on your face or bright lights are on and they are visually stimulated, limit noise and movement and touch. If you are rocking or stroking baby, limit visual stimulation and if you are talking to the baby and they seem to be focusing on your voice, limit touch, movement and visual stimulation.

3. I can smell you coming.

Babies sense of smell is very well-developed at birth, and they are calmed by mommy’s scent. Consider leaving an article of clothing that you just wore with your baby when you leave. You could also put a small burp cloth against your skin, then leave it with your baby when you are not there to keep your baby calm.

NICU, baby chick, occupational therapist, OT

Photo credit to Amelia Giangiulio

4. I need skin to skin touch.

Kangaroo care (putting baby down mommy or daddy’s shirt) is great for baby’s development and for bonding with the baby. This also helps to regulate baby’s temperature, heart rate, respirations, and brain development. You can also do baby massage for skin on skin contact. The developmental benefits of skin on skin contact are immeasurable!

READ MORE
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5. I feel calm when I hear familiar sounds.

Babies do hear in utero and by recreating the sounds of utero, babies can be soothed. Mom’s voice is usually very calming for baby. Sing to your baby, read a book, and just talk to your baby. Studies show that babies demonstrate familiarity to mom’s voice just one day after birth. Babies are also calmed by white noise or ocean sounds, recreating the swishing sound of the amniotic fluid. Babies also like the sound of the heartbeat and many baby sound machines play a heartbeat sound.

It can be very difficult to have a baby in the NICU, but remember, they are getting the care they need and you can take advantage of the knowledge of the nurses, therapists, and neonatologists to give you lots of information before you bring your precious baby home.

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About the Author /

Dr. Aimee Ketchum is a pediatric occupational therapist and has been working in pediatrics for 20 years. Ketchum works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at UPMC Pinnacle Hospital and lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. Ketchum is also the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company.

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Instagram post 17862171103601373 All of these things make me happy. What would you add to your self care toolbox?⁠
I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
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Instagram post 17852665306696124 With the holiday season upon us and moms trying to make everything magical for their families, remember to stop and take a moment to take care of you. ❤️ Have a hot cup of coffee, a long warm shower and some alone time. Communicate this with your partner not as a wish but as a necessity. We must take the time to take care of ourselves to better take care of them. 💕⁠
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Instagram post 17844162355818683 I think I had a little too much turkey . . . and pie. 😬🍗🥧 #leggingsforlife⁠
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Instagram post 17990835490280335 I totally felt this way when I was pregnant. And kinda feel this way after all that turkey. 🤣🦃 Happy turkey day to all you expecting mamas!!⁠
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Instagram post 17852562805720320 Loneliness is a real thing in new motherhood and I want to be sure we talk about this. It's okay to say, "I feel lonely." We normalize one another's experiences when we share the reality of our journey. It can be so isolating when we bring our small human home and our lives revolve around his/her care. We feel detached from the outside world. The monotony of new motherhood can be heavy.⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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