Baby Unit Survival Tips

One in nine babies born in the UK will spend at least a few days in a neonatal unit which specialises in looking after preterm, small and sick babies.

Prepare Yourself - The first time you see your baby can be shocking and emotional. The incubator is protecting your baby from drafts, infections and from being over handled, and keeping them warm, which they cannot do yet themselves. The tubes and monitors that you will see are for your baby’s three basic needs: to receive nutrition and fluid, to breathe, and to stay warm. Your little one may also be very small, thin and their appearance might not be what you imagined, with papery or jaundiced skin.

Understand your Baby’s Care - Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is important that you are part of the baby’s care. Have a note book handy to write down what the care team say, and to jot down any questions you think of.

Share Your Scent - You can use pre-washed piece of cloth to put between your breasts and then place in the incubator near the baby.

It’s comforting since she already knows your scent.

Ask How Can You Give Breastmilk to your Little One - Your breast milk is important to your baby at any age. Research shows that giving your premature baby your breast milk benefits their health as well as yours. Try to express, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is formula milk specially made for premature babies, as well. The best baby is the fed baby.

Ask Your Unit About Kangaroo Care – This is a skin to skin method of maintaining a healthy body temperature outside the incubator, once the health and weight of your baby has stabilised. It can be done by the mother or the father as a form of nurturing and bonding, and the babies seem to love it, which in turn helps them thrive. Not all units offer this, and it isn’t usually practised before 28 weeks.

Communicate with Your Baby – Let your baby hold your clean finger, stroke your baby, talk to him/her in a gentle sing-song voice, make eye contact, show your baby objects, especially black and white striped toys.

Take Care of Yourself – It is totally normal to feel worried about your baby, or to feel guilty, so make sure you talk to a loved one or a friendly member of staff. Make sure you eat, drink and rest - your little one needs you to be healthy and ready for the challenges ahead.

Don’t forget, your partner is going through the same emotional roller coaster too - support each other!

Finding cute outfits for your little one might be challenging, and you may not want plain pink, blue or white. We have created a range just for premature babies so you can dress your tiny baby in cute, comfortable and colourful outfits too.

Author, Judit Charman & Boglarka Apostolne Haui, owners of Squidge & Smudge Handmade Ltd. Email:

Editor, Helen McClorry, Babies on board Magazine.

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