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What can you do as a friend or relative?

As a friend or relative of someone who has just experienced the birth of a premature or sick newborn, you might be unsure about how to act. Here are a few suggestions to assist you.



  • Congratulate the parents on the birth of their baby. Offer to post birth announcement.
  • Acknowledge the stress and toll Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) / Special Care Nursery (SCN) life can take.
  • Offer positive comments.
  • Offer to babysit siblings / Offer to pass on information to other family members.
  • Cook meals for the family & help out with housework.
  • Drive parents to the hospital. Parking can often be hard to find and expensive.
  • Offer to keep parents company while they visit the baby, or meet them for a meal.


  • Avoid comparing – This may only serve to maximise a parent’s grief.
  • Do not intrude or interfere and avoid giving parenting advice.
  • Avoid abandoning parents – Stay in touch, knowing you are thinking of them helps.
  • Avoid talking about setbacks that may happen or challenges that baby may face.
  • Do not expect the parents to attend family gatherings.
  • Do not visit when sick.


Don’t Say to a Parent

  • “Didn’t you know something was wrong”?
  • “At least you get a full night’s sleep while the baby is in the hospital.”
  • “At least you didn’t get huge and uncomfortable.”
  • “He / she must be in so much pain / will they be normal when they get bigger”?
  • “When can I hold the baby”?
  • “It must be hard to watch someone else take care of your baby.”
  • “How do you leave him/her there every night”?

You cannot make their baby better or take away their pain. All you can do is be supportive and understanding.

This information is available as a Tip Sheet to hand to your friends and family. Click here to download.

View all our Information Tip Sheets here.

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