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How to Bond With Your Preemie at the Hospital

premature baby

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Don't be afraid to touch. We know -- your little one looks so small, so you might be hesitant to even hold him. Don't be. In fact, what baby needs right now more than anything is his parent's touch. A nurse can show you the proper way to hold your preemie. If your baby is in an incubator and you cannot hold him, ask if you can just put your hand or arm inside for a few minutes to give him some skin-to-skin touch.

But don't stroke. Massage is often overstimulating for a premature baby, so resist the urge to stroke or caress your child's skin.

Feed the baby. Even if baby isn't ready to latch on yet, try to be there for every feeding so you can be the one giving her the bottle of pumped breast milk or formula. This will give you even more time to hold and cuddle with her, as well as give her the sense of security that comes with knowing that her mom and dad are taking care of her needs.

Try kangaroo care. This is a special bonding moment when your baby will be placed on your bare chest, wearing only a diaper, so that you have skin to skin contact with him. Blankets will be placed over you and the baby to keep the both of you warm.

Read or sing. Simply hearing the sound of your voice will be soothing to your baby, so be sure to read, talk, and sing to your preemie every day.

Follow baby's cues. Keep in mind that premature babies all have different tolerance levels. Some might be especially fussy during feeding times. Don't get discouraged -- stay calm and observe what he likes and doesn't like. After a while, you'll know exactly what to do to make baby happy and bond with him in his own unique way.

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