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A team of neonatal nurses has been helping premature babies bond with their parents by using a comforter designed to take on a mum or dads scent.

Neonatal nursing team

The Miniboo was introduced at the special care baby unit of Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle after sister Claire Ellerby observed how a comforter had a positive effect on parent and baby bonding. After gathering evidence through a literature search, she secured funding from charity Tiny Lives.

It has helped reduce parental stress, encourage bonding and attachment, and establish breastfeeding, she says.

The initiative has led to the neonatal nursing teams shortlisting in the Child Health category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016.

The award, sponsored by specialist journal Nursing Children and Young People (NCYP), recognises innovation that improves the care of children and young people.

Claire Ellerby

The Miniboo comforter is made of bamboo to allow a soft texture suitable for parent and baby that readily absorbs parents scent. It is antibacterial, eco-friendly and biodegradable.

Placing the Miniboo close to the baby offers reassurance and comfort when the parent is not there. Furthermore, mothers expressing breast milk found the scent of the baby provided by the comforter helped with production, especially at home.

The comforters have been used to soothe babies who are going into foster care and also to support siblings when they are being cared for in different hospitals. They have also been used to comfort parents who have been bereaved.

The initiative began in 2014 and was such a success that the unit now provides every family with two Miniboos on admission one for the baby and one for the parents. Claire has developed a teaching package and information sheet for parents and local guidelines for staff.

After the successful pilot, UNICEF visited the unit and now advocates the Miniboo initiative. Claire presented it as an innovation for future practice at the UNICEF 2015 conference.

Claire says: Improving the neonatal experience for babies and their parents is paramount to the care we offer. The stress of the hospital environment and the added anxiety caused by being apart is something our team is always looking to improve.

NCYP editor Chris Walker was on the shortlisting panel. She says: The standard this year was high and the entries show the enormous range of activities that nurses working with children are engaged in.

About the sponsor

Nursing Children and Young People

Nursing Children and Young People is the UKs leading journal covering practical and evidence-based practice in child health nursing. Nursing Children and Young People is packed full of summaries of published research studies, commentary on research, opinion pieces from leading figures in childrens nursing and students, plus listings of conferences, awards and other resources. The journal also provides a comprehensive news round-up and news analysis to ensure you never miss important developments in children and young peoples nursing. Subscribe to the journal here.

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