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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.

If you would like to download this information in postcard format to hand to your friends and family, then click here.