Facebook Pixel Code
About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 2, 2010

NICU book of rhymes promotes family-centred care

Dan Yashinsky never dreamed that he would spend the first weeks of his son’s life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). He felt helpless as doctors and nurses cared for his fragile newborn.  The thought that his son would experience the world for the first time through beeps from a machine was unimaginable, so he and his family began singing and telling stories in an attempt to normalize the situation.  “We wanted our baby to hear our voices and not just the sounds of the monitors or the doctors discussing test results,” said Yashinsky, a professional storyteller. 

Inspired by his experience in the NICU,  Dan worked with  the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program, Jonathan Hellmann, Clinical Director of the NICU at SickKids and the NICU Family Care Committee to create a rhyme book for families called It was Midnight on the Ocean: The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Book of Rhymes and Stories.    

It was Midnight on the Ocean provides parents with some examples of rhymes that may help them connect and communicate with their child. The Parent-Child Mother Goose program, directed by Celia Lottridge, bases its work on a foundation of research into infant social and emotional development, attachment and communication.  Communication through reading promotes family-centred care, as it allows parents to use the sound of their voice to connect with their baby.  This is therapeutic not only for the infant, but also for the parents.

It was Midnight on the Ocean will be given to every parent in the NICU.  The book is made up of 22 rhymes and four stories and is a tool for parents to take an active role in the developmental care of their child. 

“Parents are often sitting by the bedside, worrying about their child,” said Hellmann, . "This book will promote parental involvement in the care of their child. It is a gentle approach to humanize a highly technological environment.”

Medical staff in the NICU will gather feedback from the parents to find out whether the book has helped and how.  The ultimate goal is to create similar stories in different languages to better serve SickKids’ multicultural community.