Skin-to-skin contact promotes bonding and helps premature babies breathe and sleep better.
Ask the NICU staff to let you try kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) as soon as possible after delivery and for as long as you can. Proven benefits to the baby include a more stable heartbeat, breathing and body temperature regulation and longer periods of sleep.
Do whatever helps you feel connected with your baby. Many parents talk, read and sing to their newborn.
Try to get involved in as much of your baby's daily care as possible. Let the staff know you would like to bathe and diaper your baby as soon as it's safe.
Breastfeed if you can; if your baby is only moderately preterm, you may be able to. If not, you can pump your breast milk. Most NICUs offer refrigerator or freezer milk storage and will use your milk to tube feed your baby.
Products For Preemies
Tiny Clothing: NICU-compatible clothing, ranging in size from Micro-Preemie (1-3 lbs.), to Tiny (2-4 lbs.), Preemie (3-6 lbs.) and Take-Me-Home (7-11 lbs.). preemiesrus.com.
Car Seat Insert: The Snuzzler offers total head and body support for tiny infants. $20. kiddopotamus.com.
Preemie-Sized Bottle: The patented Dr. Brown's Natural Flow baby bottle, designed to reduce spit-up and gas, now comes in a 2-ounce size. $5. handi-craft.com.
Baby Book: A preemie's milestones are very different from those of a full-term infant. Record the details of your little one's first months in this memory book. $30. prematurelyyours.com/products.html.
Hands Off: Once your baby comes home, friends will want to visit. Signs asking people to wash their hands before touching baby are a friendly way to remind them not to spread germs to your preemie. $6. mytiny hands.com/products.html.