Balancing life between the NICU and home is no easy feat. When you have one (or more) child in the NICU and one (or more) child at home, it feels nearly impossible to be fully present with either. Add on visitor restrictions from RSV/FLU and it gets even more difficult!
As a child life specialist, part of my job is to support the entire family. Juggling life in the NICU and at home can leave your brain on overload and unable to think of ways to support the whole family, which is why we have done some of the work for you!
While we cannot change hospital policy, we can offer different ways to stay connected during this season.
- Take pictures of your child in the NICU and show to siblings at home daily.
- Encourage older siblings to write letters to their baby brother/sister that you can read on their behalf while visiting.
- Encourage younger siblings to draw pictures for the baby that you can display in the NICU
- Record videos of siblings and videos of the baby to share with each other
- Share details about baby’s milestones and goals and ask siblings for ideas to help achieve them (realistic or not, this helps them feel a part of the team)
- Encourage siblings to ask questions (no question is stupid).
- Keep dialogue open (you could ask siblings, “what do you want me to tell baby brother today?”)
- Ask staff (nurses, doctors) to write a short note to siblings telling them how important they are in this journey.
- Allow siblings to give a shirt, stuffed animal, or toy to baby (even if it cannot be taken into the nursery).
- Give siblings “jobs” to help care for baby brother or sister. (For example: they can draw one picture for baby, they can record a song for baby, etc.)
Do you have other ideas? Comment on this post to share!
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions! We are happy to brainstorm with you!