- Talk, sing, smile, and pay attention to their cues. This helps them learn your voice and understand your communication.
- Massage+ 30, 10, 5 is a powerful method of baby massage that can help with bonding and overall development.
- Skin-to-skin contact calms and relaxes both you and the baby, regulates their vitals, and improves their health and growth.

Parent-infant bonding in the NICU can happen in so many ways!

Bonding with baby helps your little one feel safe, secure, and loved. These attachments can start forming while baby is in the NICU. Bonding is a process and can take time, but taking little steps every day (even when they’re in the NICU!) can make a huge difference. Try these activities to bond with baby.

⚠️ Always ask baby’s healthcare provider what is safe for them to do. Every baby is different, and in the NICU their needs may vary. So it’s best to make sure you know the safest way to bond with baby.


Communicate with Baby

“Communication” is more than just talking. It involves both sending a message to others, and understanding what message they are trying to send to you. Even at this young age, you can communicate with baby, which helps strengthen your bond. Try:

  • Talking or singing to baby. They will learn the sound of your voice, and begin to understand how to communicate. Using a sing-song voice can be especially helpful.
  • Smile at baby. When they make eye contact with you, smile at them. While they may not be able to show it yet, they love seeing your smiling face.
  • Paying attention to your baby’s states of alertness and cues in the NICU. This will help you understand what they need from you.

Do Baby Massage

Massage+ 30, 10, 5 is a simple, quick, and powerful massage to help improve the health and development of premature and full-term infants. Some of the benefits include improvements in:

Learn more about Massage+ 30, 10, 5.

Play Music or Sing to Baby in the NICU

Playing a nursery rhyme, calming music, or singing to baby in the NICU may can help baby so much! Studies on preterm infants in the NICU who are provided with music therapy have commonly shown benefits in:

  • Sensory Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Cognitive Abilities
  • Overall Health

While playing music for baby, remember to limit stimulation from screens.

Have Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact occurs when baby is laid directly on a parent’s bare chest. There is evidence to show this contact helps to:

  • Calm and relax baby and parents
  • Regulate baby’s heart rate, breathing and temperature
  • Help with digestion and feeding

premature baby lies on dad's chest

Skin-to-skin contact can be especially important for babies in the NICU. It can help to:

  • Improve oxygen saturation
  • Encourage feeding
  • Help with growth
  • Reduce time in the hospital

When Possible, Feed Baby

Baby’s feeding may look different in the NICU. They may use a feeding tube to get their nutrients while they are there. No matter what feeding looks like, feeding time can be a powerful way to bond with baby. Remember that due to baby’s time in the NICU, your feeding plan may look different than you planned, but that is ok. You may still be able to hold them while feeding or find others ways to be involved in the process. Any feeding time with baby is nourishing their body, supporting their development, and strengthening your bond.

Learn more about baby’s development every day.

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