Supporting Baby in the NICU

Mother and baby in NICU

Whether baby is born premature, or needs special medical attention after they are born, they may need to spend some extra time in the hospital. They will spend this time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, also called the NICU.

Having baby stay in the NICU is something that no parent expects. We know it can be a time of uncertainty, and many parents feel overwhelmed about the weeks ahead. It's important to remember that baby is resilient, strong, and full of potential. Even if baby needs some extra support, there are still ways to track their development and watch their incredible progress.

What is the NICU?

If baby needs medical support after birth, they will go to the neonatal intensive care unit, also known as the NICU. They will receive 24/7 care by specially trained healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers.

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How to Prepare When Baby Comes Home From the NICU

When baby is released from the hospital after spending time in the NICU, it is so exciting (and overwhelming) to welcome them home. So how can you best prepare to bring baby home after being discharged from the NICU?

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NICU Brochure coverDownload our FREE NICU brochure

From adjusting milestones to helping baby once they're discharged, this brochure provides tips and support for any baby in the NICU.

Download the NICU Brochure


How to Support Baby in the NICU

There are so many ways to support baby's development while they're in the NICU! See below for Massage+ 30, 10, 5, Tummy Time tips and music therapy.

Massage+ 30, 10, 5

What is Massage+ 30, 10, 5?

Massage+ 30, 10, 5 is a simple, quick, and powerful intervention using massage to help improve the health and development if baby is in the NICU. This is a massage of baby’s head, arms, legs, belly, and back, and also incorporates communication and movement.

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How does Massage+ 30, 10, 5 benefit baby?

There are many benefits to this baby massage intervention. Some of the benefits include improvements in:

  • Baby’s sleeping and eating habits
  • Baby’s sense of hearing, touch, sight, and motion
  • Parent confidence levels
  • Parent and child intimacy
  • Parent and child communication


Become a Massage+ 30, 10, 5 expert!

Take our on-demand course, made for parents, to learn more about how to do the massage, cues you’re getting from baby, and more.

Take the Course


Preparing for Baby to Come Home

You can continue to do Massage+ 30, 10, 5 every day at home with baby. This intervention is recommended for babies up to 1 year old. Here are some tips for doing Massage+ 30, 10, 5 at home:

  • Allow enough time so you are not rushed
  • Best to do in a dimly lit, quiet room
  • Do the massage at the same time each day
  • Give baby 100% of your attention



Tummy Time

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy Time can begin as soon as baby comes home, and is one of a newborn baby’s first exercises—and the most important!

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How can I do Tummy Time with baby in the NICU?

It’s recommended for all babies that they do Tummy Time as soon as they are born, but can baby do Tummy Time while in the NICU? Yes!

Tummy Time in the NICU

Having Tummy Time trouble?

Check out these alternate positions to help with Tummy Time.



Preparing for Baby to Come Home

Baby should continue to do Tummy Time until they start crawling! It helps with developing motor skills, core strength, and sensory skills. Try to achieve an hour of Tummy Time a day, broken up in small parts throughout the day.



Music Therapy

How does music therapy benefit infants in the NICU?

For premature babies, music therapy has been beneficial in helping to reduce stress and pain, which is often linked to medical treatment in the neonatal intensive unit (NICU).

Benefits of Music

homeKeep Baby Active After They Come Home!

A great way to keep baby active is by playing Baby Games! Be sure to ask a healthcare provider if there are any modifications you need to make at home.

When you download the Baby Development App, you will get weekly games and videos that are perfect for your baby's age and development.

Medical Care for Baby

How can you prepare for a well-baby visit?

Prepare for Baby's Visit

How can you find the right healthcare provider?

Choosing a healthcare provider for your child is important, and it can easily feel overwhelming. But have no fear! We’re here to walk you through the entire process, so you’ll get connected with the care your child needs and get answers to the questions you might have.

Find a Provider

What is Early Detection and Early Intervention?

Baby’s early years are some of the most important years for their development, which is why early detection and early intervention are so critical.

Learn about Early Intervention

Don't forget to take care of yourself. Being a parent is exciting-- and challenging. Remember that it's important to care for yourself, seek out support, and ask questions. Learn more about adjusting to baby's changes. 

Other Resources


Visit some of these great resources to help parents with babies in the NICU.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Hand To Hold

NICU Awareness


This is just the beginning of our information and resources for parents!


Guides and Resources

Answers to Common Questions

Educational Courses

The Baby Development App is essential for every parent! 

"Having the app at my fingertips, I can open it up and look at activities and milestones for my baby at his particular age. is typically my go-to and now with the app, it's even more helpful." - Physical therapist and new mom

Download the app today!


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The Promise
Our milestones are supported by American Academy of Pediatric findings. Our activities are verified by licensed pediatric physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.

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