Talking to your neonate patients


This might be kind of silly, but I was wondering if you talk to your NICU patients when you are caring for them?

In school, we are told that we should talk to our patients, even when they are intubated and/or comatose because you never know if they can hear you or not. If you were that patient, it must be scary not being able to talk to someone, or have people do procedures on you and not know what is going on.

I was in the MSICU twice for clinical this past semester, and I had one patient who was intubated (and therefore, sedated). I felt comfortable talking to her, even though she could not respond verbally. I enjoyed caring for a patient like this.

Even though the babies cannot comprehend what you are saying (as an older ICU patient might), do you still talk to them? Do you think the sound of your voice might be comforting to them?

Specializes in NICU.

Absolutely I do. NICU babies have been shown to be developmentally delayed specifically r/t the lack of stimulation a newborn is supposed to get, independent of other factors. I've also had parents tell me they love that I talk to their babies like they're BABIES. Like normal kids. I get sugary with them, I joke with them, sometimes I talk a little smack when necessary, although always in a sweet voice. They may not understand, but they can hear.

CT Pixie, BSN, RN

3,723 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

I'm not a neonate nurse (but wishing and hoping to be one day) but I had two NICU babies. The nurses were always chatting it up with my daughters, as did I. When either one was a bit fussy, simply talking to them in a soft and sweet voice would more often than not, calm them right down. My older daughters heart rate would increase for a second or two when her primary care nurse would speak to her, I loved that nurse (I loved all the nurses that cared for my daughters but this one was special)

These babies need verbal stimulation just as any other baby or human being for that matter. It doesn't matter that they can't understand, babies in general need that stimulation to learn and develop.

I say chat away :)

NeoNurseTX, RN

1,803 Posts

Specializes in NICU Level III.

Of course! Some parents aren't in too much so if the nurses don't talk to them, who will? If they're micropreemies, it's verrrry soft; I don't want to be echoing in their isolette.

Imafloat, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,289 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

I always talk to my patients. I don't talk to the micros, but once they are old enough to appreciate my banter they get an earful. I also give them hugs and special words when they go home.


409 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

We're always talking to our babies! And when we "yell" at them to 'save themselves' when they are having an A/B episode... I swear they listen and behave!

Specializes in NICU. Has 2 years experience.

Last night I had a 7 mo old Vec'd out chronic who has been doing very poorly for a while now and most likely will never make it out of the hospital. At one point during the night, I was telling him that I'm sorry he has to sit in our unit and endure procedure after procedure, poke after poke, suction after suction, month after month, and that I never thought my job would entail me to do such when I took it. At that point, a tear streamed down his face and I almost lost it.

They might not know exactly what the words coming out of your mouth mean, but they sure do understand.

And yes I talk to my primary (another kiddo) all the time. She really seems to relax if she's upset about something when I do.

Imafloat, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,289 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

We had an 8 month old on our unit that had been there her whole life. I took care of her a lot and she knew me. She had a special smile, she would move her whole body, when it was someone she knew. When we moved her to the IMCU, I cried, because I felt like the poor baby was losing her family (parents didn't come in often) when she might be experiencing separation anxiety. She would only po feed for her primary nurse, who had to go to the IMCU at times to work with her on her PO feeds.

I don't talk to my unstable pts or the micro micros. The noise may do more harm than good. But the term babies and feeder growers get lots of songs and stories, when I find the time.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

17 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

I don't have micros...but my regular newborns and some pretermers (the lowest we go is 34ish weeks), absolutely. We keep some kids with us anywhere from a couple days to a couple months. I talk to them as much as I can because God knows, these kids need all the love they can get!

babyNP., APRN

1,921 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 15 years experience.

So true with all of that.

I don't know what to make of this phenomenon, but this is what happened last week: Had a kid on an oscillator on nitric and was basically dead (grade 4 IVH bilaterally) with a whole slew of other problems, not least to mention that he/she was satting in the 50s-60s for hours at a time.

Parents walk in and sing to their child and read the bible aloud (gently). Darned if the kid's sats didn't jump up to the 80s! And plummeted once they left.

prmenrs, RN

4,565 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control. Has 42 years experience.

I talk to my pts. We don't have "micros"--@ least not for long!! ("Hello, transport? How soon can you get here!!") And I don't talk to premies who are trying to learn to eat--I don't make eye contact w/them either.

But term kiddos and growers, I do. Just chit-chat. No politics!!

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