Tips and useful links for parents of babies who need hypothermia or cooling treatment after birth; birth asphyxia; cooling; hypothermia; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy; neobrainparents; neonatal encephalopathy; NICU; neonatal intensive care unit; parents.
1. Suggested home activities for the first 6-8 weeks of life, following discharge from the hospital
(To be incorporated into your daily routine with your baby at home, prior to your first appointment for occupational therapy)
Place your baby on his/her stomach, either lying on you with his/her head above your shoulder or on a firm surface with a small rolled-up blanket placed under their chest. The goal is for your baby to try to lift his/her head and turn her/his head to the sides. This will encourage your baby’s development of head control.
Hold your baby with one hand at the level of his/her chest and the other hand at the level of his/her shoulder blades. The goal is for your baby to try to hold his/her head in line with her/his trunk. Hold this position until your baby’s head falls forward. This type of sitting will encourage your baby’s development of head control.
Have your baby focus on an object with contrasting colors (e.g., black and white, red) and move the object from side-to-side. Alternatively, place your baby on your folded legs facing you and have him/her focus on your face; then, slowly move him/her to the left and the right, so he/she can continue to focus on your face.
Auditory and language stimulation
Read books to your baby and speak to your baby in the language that is most comfortable for you when you are holding her/him, changing his/her diaper, etc.
Fine motor development
Place different textured toys (e.g., cloth, soft plastic, etc.) near your baby’s hands to encourage accidental reaching and grasping.
2. Recommended Positioning for the first 6-8 weeks of life, following discharge from the hospital
When awake and alert
- Have your baby lie on his/her back with rolled-up blanket placed under her/his shoulders and the hips to bring them towards the midline.
- Have your baby side-lying with a rolled-up blanket placed behind his/her back.
- Have your baby sleep on his/her back without any rolled-up blanket and any restraint.
3. Useful links
- Hope for HIE is a parents group for families whose children have suffered from birth asphyxia and who have been diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Their community is worldwide and includes parents of children with a wide range of outcomes. They provide a variety of support outlets, both in person and online, and “ensure that each person who is touched by this diagnosis finds a place they feel they can call home with support from real people who shared similar experience.”
- The Best in Daily Life is a project designed specifically for families with children aged 0–2 years who are born with health issues. Its goal is “to provide information and practical advice regarding the baby’s development and behavior. It applies from the time of birth to life in the NICU to the joys and tribulations back home.” The information is divided into five sections: decoding your baby’s behavior, positioning, feeding, playing and interacting, and developmental stages. The goal of the program is for you to pick up on cues and better understand your child’s behavior. You will learn about suggested activities that stimulate your baby’s growth and development.
- Being Born and Grow Up provides general advice for parents about child health and development. This website focuses on children from conception up to 6 years of age.