If you have a baby that is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), there is a good chance that you want to make sure that you bond with your child as quickly as possible. This can be frustrating for you because you might not be able to touch and hold your baby as much as you would like, which you know is important for bonding. Here are some tips for bonding with your baby in the NICU, despite the difficulties that you face.
1. Talk to Your Baby
Your baby was able to hear you when he or she was in your womb or the womb of your partner. Talk to your baby on a regular basis and make sure that he or she can hear your voice. This will help the baby feel more comforted, even if you cannot hold him or her at first. Read your baby books, talk to your partner in the presence of the baby, or just talk to the baby about all of the cool things that he or she is going to do when he or she is stronger. At this point, quantity is going to matter much more than quality.
2. Hold Your Baby Like a Kangaroo
When you are allowed to hold your baby, make the most of your experience by increasing the skin-to-skin bonding as much as possible. One way to do this is by holding your baby like a kangaroo, also known as "kangaroo care." Pick up your shirt. Have your partner gently hand you the baby after you have rolled up your sleeves to expose your forearms. Hold the baby on your exposed stomach and have your partner help you pull the shirt back down. This will help you reduce the amount of swaddling that you baby needs when being held because your trapped body heat under the shirt will keep the baby warm. This will greatly increase the amount of skin-to-skin contact that you have with your baby, allowing you to bond more quickly.
3. Rest Your Hand on Your Baby
If you cannot hold your baby yet, you can comfort him or her by simply resting your hand on his or her back or stomach. Be gentle and watch how your baby responds. Vary your level of touch according to the response.
If you want more information, talk to a doctor who specializes in newborn care.