Babies in the intensive care nursery can appear so fragile that parents are often hesitant to touch and hold them. But that physical connection with your newborn is the start to building a healthy relationship. That’s why, once your baby is medically stable, our specialists encourage as much skin-to-skin holding and parent interaction as possible.

The Gentle Hands Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals' Oakland campus helps guide parents through their first physical interactions with their newborn. Our child development specialists teach parents how to touch, hold, massage and bathe their baby, using the infant’s signs of readiness as a guide. The program helps parents gain confidence in caring for their infant by encouraging bonding moments. Research shows that medically challenged infants who receive touch may feed better, sleep more, gain weight more quickly and go home faster.