How to Bond with Your Premature Baby in NICU

There is often a lot of focus on the bond between a Mum and her new baby when they are first born. There’s the very first cuddle as soon as they come out, their first latch when breastfeeding, their first nappy explosion, the first time they open their eyes. It’s such a special moment. But what if its not like that? What if your baby is put straight into an emergency incubator and wheeled away to Neonatal before you have had chance to get over the last contraction or before you have left the operating theatre? For many Mums this is the case and it certainly was for me when Little Lady was born. I was actually holding her sleeping sister when she was born, I got one look at her foot and she was wheeled away. I didn’t see her until 15 hours after she had been born. Those first moments had already gone.

If you have found this post because you have a baby in Neonatal at the moment and are struggling to find ways to bond with them then I hope this post helps you out a little. I felt lost the first time I visited her, I couldn’t hold her, kiss her, cuddle her. I couldn’t even change her nappy at that point. All I could do was open the little Incubator window and put my hand on hers. I loved my little girl there and then but it definitely took me longer than normal to bond with her and to get to know here because I just couldn’t do what the nurses could. With all this in mind, here are my 5 top ways to bond with your baby in NICU, theses are the things I learnt along the way and helped me build the relationship myself and Little Lady have now.

Kangaroo Care – This is the most important way to bond by far. I managed to get Kangaroo Care with Little Lady when she was 3 days old and it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life but the most perfect. Sat in the big hospital chair the nurse tucked Little Lady into my top, there were wires attached to every part of her and an oxygen mask too so it was tricky and I was terrified I would knock something but it was what I had been waiting for and she and I both needed that contact. Her breathing stabilised and for those 10 minutes we were both really content. My top tip with this would be as ask when Kangaroo Care can happen and as soon as it is offered take the opportunity because you don’t know when the next chance will be. Eventually I was able to take Little Lady out of her incubator and eventually hot cot myself but that took a while.

Learn the Routine – So it might not be the routine you were hoping for but there is one to learn in NICU too. Every day the nurses will need to do your babies ‘cares’. This is when they do a nappy change, a little wash and change clothes is necessary. For a while it was always the nurses that did this because of the amount of wires but eventually they starting asking me to do it. The best way to do it is to find out what time of day they do the ‘cares’ and try and be there for then. Being able to do the normal Mum stuff will really help you feel closer to your baby. The same goes for feeds too; I tried to be there for at least 2 feeds even though they were through her feeding tube I still felt like I was doing something for her.

Talk – Talking to your baby is so important when you can’t be physically close to them. It doesn’t matter what you talk about but talk away. They will recognise your voice and take comfort from it. Little Lady often reacted to my voice in the early days, just seeing that tiny movement when I spoke to her really helped me bond with her.

Make Eye Contact – I found out about this when I was researching this very subject myself nearly 2 years ago. Little Lady’s eyes weren’t open for very long for a while but when they were I made sure to make eye contact with her and let her see me.

I hope these tips have helped if you are struggling to bond with your baby in Neonatal. I promise it does get easier and you are doing everything you can.



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I’m Rachel, a 30 something Mum to 6 year old Little Man & 2 year old twin girls (one with us & one in the sky).

I’m an anxiety sufferer, list writer and secret chocolate eater.

Join me going from anxious to organised.

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