Monday, April 2, 2018

How Parents Can BuildiSocial/Emotiomal Development in NICU Babies

While attending a recent conference on the effect of prematurity om babies who are born medically fragile a major concern was based on attachment and social/emotional development. As an early educational professional I know there are many things parents can do to help their children even while they are in the NICU.As a former baby of the NICU I know attachment can be formed between an ill child and her parents. It just takes time and dedication on the part of parents.

Here is a list of things parents can do to help their children:
  1. Read and tape your voice reading stories, which can be played for your child while you are not there. The first sense which develops en utero is hearing. The baby has spent months listening to your voice. That is one thing missing from their world. By taping the reading of stories you are giving your child two things. First a sense of security because he/she can hear you. Two language is really important for children who provide an article of clothes my whicare premature they need to hear at least 30 million words before going to school. This reading of stories will help them with their language development.
  2. Breast feed, pump, or find donated human milk  for your child. Breast milk provides antibodies, and other nutrients which support both brain and  eye development both of which are extremely important for a preemie.
  3. Touch your baby as much as possible. Studies show children who a e not touched have a harder time both thriving and development my strong emotional attachment. Touching and holing your baby as much as possible helps. Which is another benefit of breast feeding.
  4. Provide a cloth or article of clothing which smells like Mom. Smell is another sens children use to identify Mom. This can also help provide a sense of connection to Mom.
  5. Talk with the nurse about your needs, concerns, and a he best way to support them as hey support you. Having your child in the NICU is extremely different cult, but you are not alone you are surrounded by a team of professionals who a e on your side and want to see your child healthy enough to go home with you where he/she belongs. Opening up know what you n Ed. Share my post Support them can help them help you. Do not be afraid to ask. But, know they may not always have the title me or already answer when you ask. Let them know you are willing to wait for the answer, trust them to get back to you.
  6. Ask for help and support from your family and friends. This is not the time for a " stiff upper lip" or to" be the strong one" yes your child needs you to be strong for them. But, Durham nag this to me you need someone else to be strong for you. Let your friends and family know what you need, they love and want to help, let them know how. Share our post Supporting Parents of Children in NICU. It will give them a place to start and also help you think of other ways you could use some support. 
  7. Take care of yourself and your own emotional health. Too many times parent try to give children what they do not have themselves. The truth is you cannot give what you do not own. Social/Mental/Emotional health are a linked in order to take care of all of them you need to be willing and open to receive the help you need. First, having a baby is the most joyous and stressful experience in life. Having a child in the NICU can short circuit the best of us. Join a support group of parents who have been and are in your situation. You are not the only parent who has had a child in this situation and you will not be the last. Get around people who have been there they are your greatest mentors! Talk about it! We all have at least one friend we tell all of our down and dirty secrets to; get in a private place and pour out your heart, thoughts, and fears. Get this person to help you look at them logically and make a plan. If you are one of those rate people without such a person in your life; this is what therapy is for. Ask in the NIDU for a list of therapist who work with parents in your position. Do things which recharge your batteries and brings some emotional relief as you go through this experience. Take care of yourself. Your child will eventually come home. When that happens you will need to be as healthy as you can in all ways. They will need you to not be overly tired and stressed. But, at your very best. This means you need to have to leave the hospital at some point and just allow yourself to be. Lean on your spouse. This is something my Mom and Dad had to do when I was sick. It made their connection stronger. They talked about their hopes and fears. They shared their thoughts and weakness when it came to caring for me. The chose to see each other s allies not blaming each other but supporting and loving each other through the situation. They were married for 35 years before my father died. Marriage can survive prematurity buy, you have to build each other up through this time to make it. You can do it. It takes determination and grit, uy you can do it. Your child will need a safe and loving home to overcome the issues still to come from being premature everything you can do to build yourself , your spouse, and your marriage will help. If you are not married surround yourself with friends who will love and support you. Use your support group of parents to help. Ask for help!
  8. Pray and belief above all else that God cares about all of you. He is not far off but holding you and carrying you through this. He is close and he isther to help. Again ask for the help!
God had Aaron pray a prayer over the children of iserael and he used this prayer to put His name and blessing on the children of Israel. I encourage you to pray it over your baby at every opportunity. It is found in Numbers 6:24-27.

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Believe in Parenting

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