Imagine how much more stressful it can be when a seriously ill premature baby is the one being introduced. Premature babies require a tremendous amount of attention from their parents. That is attention that will be taken away from siblings. The tricky part is maintaining the balancing act that allows parents to give necessary attention to the new baby without neglecting the older children.
Among the many suggestions for introducing children to a new premature sibling is to take them to the NICU for a visit. This is not necessarily wise in every case – and not every hospital allows sibling visits anyway – but it can be very productive in families for which it is right.
The primary purpose of taking older children to the NICU for a visit is to help them understand what was previously only an abstract concept. It is one thing to say a new baby has been added to the family; it's an entirely different thing for siblings to actually meet that baby at the hospital. A visit makes it possible for them to connect a real, living person to all those things mummy and daddy have been talking about.
Parents can do a number of things to prepare the older children for a NICU visit, so there will be no surprises:
Parents can also offer different ways siblings can make a connection with the baby during the visit. They might suggest siblings talk to the new brother or sister, sing the baby a song, or even draw a picture. Just remember that the goal is a pleasant introduction.