New mom Josie Kramer recently gave birth to her son Sterling and already has a mother’s intuition.
"It's one you don't know I guess unless you're a parent," says Josie, Sterling’s mom.
Sterling is like most infants, he loves stories and loves to cuddle. But he was born severely premature at just 25 weeks.
"He was 1 pound and 15 ounces when he was born," says Josie.
It's why little Sterling has been here at the neonatal intensive care unit since he was born.
For premature babies like him, there are many concerns. Among them the feeling of touch.
"Research shows that 95 percent of touch in the NICU is negative touch. It causes babies to go into very high levels of stress," says Renee Voltz, a Pediatric Physical Therapist at the NICU.
Stress which can cause harm to infants and slows their development, it's why therapists like Voltz introduced newborn massage at the hospital.
"Our goal of the infant massage is to give them some positive touch," says Voltz.
Positive touch they teach to parents like Josie so they can interact with their child, even for just a few minutes a day.
"He was a little agitated when we first got him out, but now he’s ready to fall asleep. So, you know it’s doing good," says Josie.
Therapists say these massages improve circulation, digestion and weight gain.
For Josie, It's the most important part of her day.
"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. This is a very, very special place and we'll be grateful forever," says Josie.
And it's not just premature babies that benefit from massage, all infants respond well from supportive touch and cuddling, which impacts how the brain processes social and emotional connections.
It can also aid in getting a fussy baby to relax and sleep.
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