Whether it’s to a new home or the new NICU, moving involves a lot of preparation.Whether it’s to a new home or the new NICU, moving involves a lot of preparation.

Moving can be troublesome and scary for a parent, but devastating for a child.

Recently, families and staff have seen remarkable change at Cook Children’s, especially in the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Cook Children’s staff worked with the parents to understand about the move and how it would impact them. They listened to their concerns and helped them to see how beneficial the move would be for them and their child.

The move from the old NICU to the new one involved preparation. Expecting parents who knew they needed Cook Children’s and families currently at the medical center were given tours.

“The parents in the NICU have entrusted their child to our care and trust how things go,” Vicki Kelley, a Child Life specialist in the NICU, said. “I believe it’s our responsibility to help them feel secure that we are going to continue that care in a new place. So in order for them to feel secure, we need to let them know what it looks like, what our role will be and what their role will be. We’re very excited because our parents will now be involved with the nursing report. So at shift change, when a nurse reports to another nurse the parent will be there. That’s something new. We want them to know that’s going to be a great opportunity for parents to be involved.”

Kelley said when parents are moving to a new house or town, they should be just as prepared and involved with their own children. She stresses that parents should make sure to take plenty of time to discuss with their children the feelings they have about the change.

“It’s so hard to see our children go through something that’s painful, whether it’s a medical experience or it’s because of losing someone or something,” Kelley said. “The loss of a friend moving, the loss of their house, even moving from one place to another are all things children may grieve. As adults, we grieve someone who has died and we may realize that grief is going to be a process. I’m not sure many people realize when children transition from one place to another, they are grieving a loss of something and it’s going to be a process.”

Kelley said it’s important to make sure that children are involved from the beginning of the move-even in planning the move. When it’s possible, give children choices that they can make. “Obviously they can’t choose to move to California,” Kelley said “But if it’s possible, they can choose their room they are going to have in their new house or if the family is OK with it, allow them to choose the new color they put on their wall.”

Kids may fear the unknown. Kelley suggests parents take their children to their new school ahead of time. She also says it’s a good thing to not assume the children’s concerns and ask them to tell you what they fear. This is a good opportunity to also ask what their child is excited about.

“Preparing your child for upcoming experiences is important. When most children start a new thing they feel a little bit nervous,” Kelley said. “I would talk to their teachers and let them know about what kind of things interest them. Find some kids that may have something in common with your children. If your child has a pet, say a guinea pig, ask if there is a child in the classroom that also has a guinea pig.

“Parents know their children better than anyone. Watch for their behaviors because sometimes a child can’t put their feelings into words and so you may see behavior changes. Be ready for that and be patient. Don’t be surprised if your child is more irritable or more afraid to be alone. Understand those behaviors and be sure to talk about it with them. Feeling anxious about change is not unusual. Helping your child be prepared can help them deal with those feelings.”

The move from the old NICU to the new one also involved preparation. Expecting parents who knew they needed Cook Children’s and families currently at the medical center here for a long stay were given tours of the new NICU.

“The parents in the NICU have entrusted their child to our care and trust how things go,” Kelley said. “I believe it’s our responsibility to help them feel secure that we are going to continue that care in a new place. So in order for them to feel secure, we need to let them know what it looks like, what our role will be and what their role will be. We’re very excited because our parents will now be involved with the nursing report. So at shift change, when a nurse reports to another nurse the parent will be there. That’s something new. We want them to know that’s going to be a great opportunity for parents to be involved.”


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