preemie in nicu

Overstimulation in the NICU

If you have ever stepped foot into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, you know what the title means. The noise, the lights, the busyness. It’s often too much for me, let alone what it must be like for the premature nervous system. And I don’t just mean the stress and chaos that ensues during birth or death. It’s the every day moments that add up and can take a toll.

For those who have never been in a NICU, this may be surprising. Shouldn’t the temporary home for premature and sick infants provide a healing environment? And don’t get me wrong, some NICUs do a great job at this. But many struggle to provide an environment that supports the sensory systems of the fragile infant.

The fragile infant needs quiet, positive touch, dim lighting, intentional care. They need us to reduce painful experiences and noxious smells as much as possible. They need us to change their position slowly, to quietly sing them a song, and to gently change their diaper to limit stress. They’re dependent on us for every little thing.

Whether you’re a NICU parent or staff member, remember that these little things aren’t so little to the baby. Those intentional moments where you’re responding to the baby’s every cue are so meaningful.

We have the power and the responsibility to provide nurturing, loving care. High quality medical care is not enough. The babies deserve our best, so let’s bring it in every way that we can!

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