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Pain: how to comfort your baby

Reducing Pain and Comforting your Baby in the NICU.

During their NICU stay, premature babies may undergo many procedures. Although necessary, procedures can be stressful and painful for babies. Research has shown that poorly controlled pain and stress can affect a baby’s developing brain. Parents and caregivers can use simple techniques to comfort babies and lessen the impact of pain and stress on babies.

Supporting your baby through painful or stressful procedures

Parents and caregivers can help a baby through pain and stress using the power of touch and other simple techniques. Strategies to support a baby through pain and stress can help babies in the NICU and after discharge. Research shows that supporting babies through stress and pain helps with healthy brain development.


We can support babies through procedures with breastfeeding, kangaroo care, facilitated tucking, and using pacifiers.


If your baby can breastfeed, this is a very effective way to provide comfort during painful or stressful procedures. Many procedures, such as heel pricks, can be done while a baby is breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding has many benefits, including:

  • Reducing pain and soothing your baby

  • Promoting your baby’s growth

  • Promoting baby’s brain development

  • Boosting baby’s immune system


Kangaroo Care (Skin-to-skin)

Holding your baby on your bare chest in kangaroo care has many wonderful benefits for both baby and parents. Many procedures can be done when a baby is held in a kangaroo care position.


Some of the many benefits of Kangaroo Care include:

  • Reducing infant stress and pain

  • Improving oxygen levels and regulating breathing and heart rate

  • Decreasing the length of NICU stay

  • Helping baby’s brain development and motor skills

NEW! Infographic: Comforting your baby and reducing pain during your NICU stay


PDF format 878 KB (1 page)

Thank you to Heather Cresswell, neonatal nurse, for reviewing this material. Thank you to Medela Canada and MomLinc Lab for supporting the creation of this infographic.

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