INTEGRIS Health Children's Hospital

Your First Visit with Your Baby in the NICU

When you first see your baby in the NICU, he or she may seem smaller and different than you initially remembered. Despite the isolette, equipment and specialists surrounding your baby, this newborn is still your baby.

Interacting with your baby is very important to his/her recovery and your own peace of mind. We encourage you to touch your baby and become involved in his/her care when possible. As your baby recuperates, you will be able to hold and feed him/her. You are not a “visitor,” but an essential part of your baby’s care.

You may find your first visits to the nursery very difficult. Feelings of fright and distance are normal and will be resolved in time. Remember that it takes time to become comfortable with a new person. Your baby is a unique person with his/her own special personality. Each visit will bring your baby closer to you.

mother and child


Kangaroo Care

Even when your baby is still very small, you may be able to hold and cuddle him by placing the baby directly on your chest, skin to skin, inside your clothing. This is called “Kangaroo Care.” Your doctor or nurse will let you know when your baby is ready for this.

Your Baby

At first, most of your baby’s time will be spent sleeping. However, there probably will be short periods of time when the infant will be wide-awake. As you get to know your baby, you will become aware of his/her patterns. When your baby is awake, we encourage you to interact and get to know your baby. As you spend more time with your baby, you will become familiar with his/her likes and dislikes, and know what comforts and soothes him/her. Babies can become over stimulated with handling, and the staff will help you recognize these clues. It takes time to feel comfortable with your baby, and the nursing staff will help you with this process. With time, the staff will rely on you to tell us about your baby—what soothes him/her best and what makes him/her happy.

Breast Feeding

If your baby is ill or very small, they may not be fed right away. If you had planned to breastfeed your baby, you can still do so. By pumping your breasts, you will be able to maintain your milk supply and we can save your milk by freezing it. This milk will be used when your baby is ready to take milk, until he/she is strong enough to breastfeed directly. Please ask your baby’s nurse for information on how to collect and store your milk. There is an electric pump in the NICU for your use, or you may ask your nurse for information about renting one.

Smaller babies often cannot suck well and need to be fed through a gavage tube. As the baby becomes stronger, he/she will begin to take part of his feeding by nipple. When your baby is strong enough to feed with a nipple or at the breast, we encourage you to feed him/her during your visits. This is a good time for you to get to know each other better.