It is hard to understand the impact neonatal care can have on siblings, especially very small children, as even parents sometimes don’t fully understand the situations.

Sibling support is a really important part of what we do. Whilst parents are obviously worried about their baby on the unit, it is important to them that sibling support is available. With a baby on the neonatal unit, parents often rely on family and friends for child care and sibling support. Siblings may have to spend additional time at nursery or school to allow parents to be on the neonatal unit. It can be a scary and confusing time for siblings, especially when they have less time to spend with their mum and dad.

While we wanted to spend all our time with Hugo, we also wanted to keep life as normal as possible for his big brother. Adam was old enough to realise what was going on and had already had to come to terms with losing his twin baby brothers. We tried to keep him involved – he drew pictures for Hugo’s incubator – and during the weekends would take it in turns to take him to different activities while the other parent spent time with Hugo.

It was hard to leave Hugo. His dad went back to work after two weeks, so was only able to see him on evenings and weekends. I would drop Adam at school then spend all my time at the hospital until school pick-up time, then go back in the evenings and weekend, alternating with his dad.

Rachel – Mum to Bill, Ben, Adam & Hugo

Older children are generally more aware of the seriousness of the situation. There is sometimes the fear that they understand a little too much and they can become quite anxious. Specialist counselling services are available for children and if you are worried about your child, please speak to their teacher at school or your GP.

We provide siblings with their own welcome pack, which includes their very own Spoons Kids Club bag and drinks flask, a special sibling milestone care and some activities to keep them busy.

We work with the neonatal units to improve the facilities and services available for families. We provide toys and the units also have DVD players and DVDs available for siblings to use at the cot side. Siblings are welcome at our community support sessions and we also run events throughout the year where they can get involved and have some fun.

We are currently working towards expanding our sibling support on the unit. If you have experience of working with young children and would like to get involved please contact us.

Useful Links


Child Bereavement UK