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Caring for Older Siblings While a Baby Is in the NICU

Jackson holding his sisterMy son was two and a half when his little sister was born at 34 weeks gestation and required a NICU stay due to a blood disorder. She was only in the hospital for a short time, but the challenges of caring for my toddler while balancing the needs of my baby in the NICU was extremely challenging. While friends and family rallied to provide support, it was difficult for my son to understand why our baby had to stay at the hospital.

Like parents, siblings need support, encouragement and information to navigate the challenges associated with a NICU stay. It’s common for siblings to worry that they caused the baby to be born early. They might think they said or did something that caused the baby to be sick. Little ones are also very perceptive and may worry that it is their fault that their parents are sad. And because for many little ones, a hospital is a scary place, they may worry that their brother or sister might never get well.

Hand to Hold believes that siblings are special. Our goal is to provide the resources, education and support necessary to ensure they believe it, too! From Sibling Sundaes (educational hours complete with songs, games and ice cream to help educate siblings about the NICU) to book recommendations for parents and resource tools that provide parents with age appropriate answers to their child’s most pressing questions, Hand to Hold is dedicated to easing the burden of a NICU stay for the entire family.

Siblings Are Special Activity PagesIn collaboration with General Electric Healthcare, Hand to Hold has produced a series of Sibling Activity Pages to not only provide siblings with something fun to do while visiting the NICU but to help educate them about their baby brother or sister’s NICU stay. These activity pages include a coloring page, dot to dot, find the giraffes and more.

Available this summer, Hand to Hold will introduce a guided NICU video tour just for siblings also supported by GE Healthcare. Hospital policies vary greatly. Often, siblings are not allowed to visit their brother or sister and may wait many months to meet them. Hand to Hold’s NICU video tour, narrated by my son and NICU graduate, Jackson, will offer siblings an inside peak into the NICU. From the proper way to wash your hands to understanding the roles of medical staff and the function of medical equipment, siblings will have a new understanding of who is taking care of their baby and hopefully feel less anxious about the health of their brother or sister.

Navigating the emotional and physical challenges of a NICU stay is never easy. When parents must juggle the added responsibility of caring for older children, even a short NICU stay can be daunting. Hand to Hold understands these challenges and will continue to strive to provide meaningful support for everyone in the family.

With Appreciation,

Kelli Kelley Signature 
Kelli D. Kelley
Founder and Executive Director

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{Featured Resource} Sibling Support Project

Hensel SiblingsThe national nonprofit Sibling Support Project aims to help children and adults with siblings who have special needs by providing education, information, Sibshop workshop training, and social networking. 

Feelings of Grief, Gratitude and Healing

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Apr 17 - Survivor Caramoan Viewing Party and Benefit will be held 6-8p at BlackFinn Ameripub in Austin, Texas. Survivor Contestants Reynold ToepferMalcolm Freberg, and Eddie Fox will host a Q & A starting at 6:30pm. This event is sponsored by Liv by Design, Black Finn Pub, Mazda, Austin Women Magazine & Austin Man Magazine. RSVP today!

Apr 21 - Milk and Cookies in the NICU  will be offered 6-7pm at St. David's North Austin Medical Center.

Apr 29 - Hand to Hold has been selected as a benefiary of the ATX Man Golf Classic which will be held at River Place Country Club in Austin, Texas.

Apr 30 - Join Hand to Hold for a Facebook Chat about "Caring for Siblings" with Child Life Specialist Julie May of Dell Children's Medical Center from 10:30-11:30am. 

Apr 30 - Shop for the Cause with Kendra Scott Jewelry. Bring your girlfriends for a shopping party from 5-8pm with cupcakes and champagne at their South Congress store in Austin, Texas. 20% of proceeds will benefit Hand to Hold.

 May 17 - Hand to Hold will be holding a For the Love of Babies Celebration and Reception at Mercury Hall at 7pm in Austin, Texas.

See more upcoming events and where we've been making connections.

Volunteer Opportunities

Helping Hand Peer Mentor - Volunteer to support a fellow NICU family no matter where you live.

Volunteer to provide NICU respite at the Ronald McDonald Room at St. David's North Austin Medical Center or at St. David's Medical Center (M/T, 9-1pm).   

Thanks to Our Superior Strength Preemie Power Sponsors!


St. David's Healthcare

Preemie Power Super Heroes

GiadaMeet Giada who was born at 34 weeks due to mom's preeclampsia. Mom and dad were on vacation when she made her surprise arrival. After a 12 day NICU stay, her family made the long drive back home. Here she is at just a month old and pretty in pink! Be inspired by more Preemie Power Super Heroes and join our Preemie Power facebook community.

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   About Hand to Hold
Hand to Hold logoHand to Hold is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. 

Hand to Hold - www.handtohold.org - 855-H2H-NICU

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