After birth, the baby’s organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, and digestive system should function on their own. In some babies, this becomes a problem especially if they are preterm. In such cases, they are kept in specialized units in the hospital called NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). This article gives you a brief idea of how to care for your baby in the NICU.

Precautions to be taken while visiting the baby in NICU:
         If any of the parents or family members are sick it is better that they not visit the baby in the NICU since there is a risk of spreading the infection to the baby. Make sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap before entering the NICU. Hospitals have a particular time to visit as well as a few items may not be allowed inside the NICU. You must follow the rules given by the hospital.

How can you care for your baby?
(1) Kangaroo care - Holding your baby, stroking their head, talking and singing will make them feel secure. You can place the baby over your chest for physical bonding and wrap a cloth over them to keep them warm.
(2) Breastfeeding - Many babies can directly breastfeed, some need milk to be pumped and fed and few infants need to be fed via a feeding tube. So do take the advice of the nurse or lactation consultant about the mode of feeding based on your baby’s health condition.
(3) Know about your infant - When you spend time with your baby observe when they are most alert, how much they respond to you, how long they rest and what type of interaction they like. Based on your observation, interact with your baby so they will feel less stressed. Talk in a soothing, soft, and calm voice. Keep the lights dim. You and your family members would want to spend more time with your baby but it is better to let the baby rest as much as possible for faster recovery. And do keep a record of your baby’s progression and changes every day.
(4) Get used to the routine - A baby in the NICU needs to get their diaper changed, and needs to be bathed or wiped using washcloth or sponges just like any other infant. The only difference you will find is that your infant in the NICU has been connected to an IV, catheter, ventilator, feeding tubes, or any other equipment. Therefore it is important to set a routine and learn to do these tasks while the baby is being attached to the tubes.
(5) Position your infant - Place the cushion properly so that your infant feels comfortable. Just keep one single pillow/cushion. Don't overstuff the baby with extra pillows, or blankets, or by keeping stuffed toys around them. Never let your baby sleep on the stomach since it causes breathing difficulties. Sleeping on the sides is not very safe either, especially if the baby is connected to the tubes. Back sleeping is the best position for a baby to get some fresh air