Baby nests and Zaky hands

12 September 2018

Thanks to donations, we’ve been able to buy equipment that helps us care for tiny babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Patient placed within the comfort of a Baby nest, with a Zaky hand placed over it
Patient placed within the comfort of a Baby nest, with a Zaky hand placed over it

Baby nests and Zaky hands help the development of premature babies and help parents to be more involved in their care.

Supporting babies’ development

Baby nests do more than just comfort: they act like the inside of the womb, where babies would usually be strengthening muscles and joints by pushing up against their mother's tummy. They’re essential to a tiny baby’s physical and psychological development. How they develop at this stage will affect how they grow once they leave NICU and become toddlers and start school.

Zaky hands are weighted hand-shaped cushions that parents can use when they are not holding their baby. They make babies feel as if they are being held, so they feel calm, soothed and protected.

‘Premature babies have different needs to full-term babies,’ explains Alex Philips, the head matron at NICU. ‘Baby nests and Zaky hands help parents to be involved and understand the development of a premature baby.’

It's been shown that Baby nests and Zaky hands significantly help with the security and development of tiny babies, meaning they will need less physiotherapy later on in life. And having that crucial support at this stage can help with their speech and language development in the future.

Helping parents to be more involved

‘Baby nests and Zaky hands help parents to interact with their baby,’ says Alex.

‘They can be involved in their baby’s development from the beginning whereas in the past parents were kept more at arm’s length. That doesn’t help when parents want to do everything they can for their baby.’

Amy Northwood, whose son George was cared for in NICU, completely agrees. George was born six weeks premature with a serious heart condition, and he stayed in NICU until he had surgery at 17 days old. Amy and her husband James found that, as well as keeping George safe and secure, the Baby nests had a therapeutic effect on them as parents.

'Very early on we were taught how to complete George’s "cares",' she says. 'One of these was changing his little bed and constructing his nest, swaddling him and settling him down. One of us would hold George and the other would change his bed and build his little nest. It made us feel closer to him, less out of control and less useless. A simple, yet wonderful idea.’

The comfort that the Zaky hands brought to George brought great reassurance to Amy and James.

'When we couldn’t be by his side, either ourselves or the nurses would place the Zaky hands on George,' she says. 'It gave him close contact when he was all alone and gave him the positive touch he needed to feel safe and loved. For us it gave comfort knowing that those times when we had to leave him, he did not feel so alone. To look at, you would not believe that these little beany hands would do much good! But they work on so many levels and I’m so pleased that charity money has been spent to buy them.'

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