First-time events between parents and preterm infants are affected by the designs and routines of neonatal intensive care units

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: Early parental bonding with preterm babies is particularly important, and the aim of our study was to explore when parents experienced what they regarded as important events for the first time while their infant was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Methods: The study was part of a longitudinal project on Kangaroo Mother Care at two Swedish university hospitals. The parents of 81 infants completed questionnaires during their infants' hospital stay. Results: Most parents saw and touched their infants immediately after birth, but only a few could hold them skin to skin or swaddle them. Other important events identified by parents included the first time they performed care giving activities and did so independently, interaction and closeness with the infant, signs of the infant's recovery and integration into the family. The timing of the events depended on the physical design of the NICU, whether parents' could stay with their infant round-the-clock and when they were allowed to provide care under supervision and on their own. Conclusion: The design and routines of the NICU dictated when parents first interacted with their infants. Clinical guidelines that facilitate early contact with preterm babies can help parents to make the transition to their parental role.


  • Rebecca Baylis
  • Uwe Ewald
  • Maria Gradin
  • Kerstin Hedberg Nyqvist
  • Christine Rubertsson
  • Ylva Thernström Blomqvist
External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • Örebro University Hospital
Research areas and keywords


  • Caregiving routines, Family-centred care, Kangaroo Mother Care, Neonatal intensive care unit, Parental role
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1052
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes