Between 30 to 32 weeks I will be small. Let the staff guide you when to touch and care for me. Over time watch how I move and react, you will soon recognise when I am calm and times when I need rest and sleep.
Try not to be frightened by all the equipment keeping me company in and around the incubator. Staff will explain these to you. Be aware that not all alarms mean something bad is happening. You will notice that as I grow and get ‘older’ I will need less equipment
Prepare me for touch by gently speaking to me. My skin is sensitive to touch as my senses are still developing so I can be easily over stimulated.
Touch should be slow and continuous rather than stroking and rubbing. Hold me so that my arms and legs are tucked close to my body and hands close to my face. This is often easier if you swaddle me. Hold me still, rather than rocking me and talk in a soft voice. When finished touching and holding me please remember to remove your hands gently from my body.
I also enjoy long periods of kangaroo care / skin to skin. This allows me to become familiar with your smell and I know that we will enjoy these special moments.
Provide boundaries, around my body during nappy changes to prevent this from being a stressful event, and move me slowly and gently.
I will move more when I am awake, and you will be starting to recognise if I am asleep or awake now. Try not to waken me when I am asleep, as sleep is very important for my brain development. As I waken, slowly and gently place your hands around me.
I can now open my eyes for short periods of time and can briefly look at faces. I prefer soft voices compared to other sounds.
Talking, interaction and care should be done when I am awake or in a light sleep. Let me remain asleep, as sleep is very important. Try to avoid bright lights and loud noises around me.
When I am awake, speak and sing gently to me, but avoid movement as I am not yet ready to look at moving objects, toys or pictures.
Milk will often be given through a feeding tube as I still need to practice the co-ordination of sucking, swallowing and breathing. I will show you signs of when I am ready to feed. You will learn what these are by spending lots of time with me but to help you in the early days here are some of the signs to look out for to let you know I am hungry and ready for a feed. I may start to become restless and wake up before feeding time
This is called responsive feeding and involves a mother responding to her babies’ readiness to feed cues. Feeds are not just for nutrition for me but also for love, comfort and promotion of bonding between us.
You can provide opportunities, particularly during a tube feed, for me to nuzzle at your breast, suck on my thumb or finger or a dummy as this will prepare me for suck feeding and give me a pleasant oral experience. If it is possible nursing staff will help you to hold me during tube feeding.
Give me the opportunity to smell milk before feeds and try not to tire me out before trying to feed me. The surroundings should be calm and quiet during feeding so that I am not too distracted.
My movements will become more purposeful and I will now be able to bring my hands and legs closer to my body. I will still need help holding them there and you will see me stretching more at this age.
Position me in a ‘fetal position’ with my hands close to my face and arms and legs near my body. This is best achieved with positional aids. I will stretch and may need repositioning to keep a good posture with boundaries. This also helps me to achieve longer periods of sleep. Repositioning and handling should be done with slow gentle movements and without sudden changes. Keep the boundaries around me to assist with the normal development of movement and sensory skills.