While in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) your baby may be assessed by a psychologist who specializes in infant and child development.
What does a psychologist do for babies in the N/IICU?
- Evaluates your older baby’s development with a standardized tool (at least 3 months old, or 3 months after your due date for preterm babies).
- Helps your older baby get on a developmentally appropriate sleep and play schedule.
- Works with your family and your baby’s therapy providers to create a developmental plan. This includes play and positioning ideas, as well as toy suggestions.
How can a psychologist help me support my baby?
A child psychologist can help you:
- Interact/bond with your baby and establish your role as the parent while your baby is in the hospital.
- Cope with the challenges of your baby having many different caregivers.
- Cope with complicated feelings (overwhelmed, conflicted, sad, frightened, guilty, angry) that often occur when your baby is hospitalized and that might make it harder to enjoy your time with your baby.
- Understand your baby’s development and answer your questions about developmental supports for when your baby goes home.
Qualifications of a psychologist
A psychologist has a graduate degree (PhD or PsyD) in clinical psychology that includes specialized training in child development. They have passed a national licensure examination and have many years of experience assessing and treating babies, children and their families.
Some psychologists have additional specialized training in infant mental health, which refers to the infant’s developing ability to form relationships with others, express his emotions, and explore his environment. Psychologists use research-supported techniques with the goal of helping each child maximize his or her potential. They stay current on new learning to provide the best care to children and families.
When to ask for help from a psychologist
The following are reasons you might want to ask the nurse or doctor to have you and your baby seen by a psychologist:
- You want to know more ways that you can be an active parent to your baby during hospitalization.
- You want recommendations about more things you can do with your baby.
- You have questions about your baby’s development beyond what has been answered by your baby’s developmental therapists.
- You feel reluctant to interact with your baby because of some of the challenges of your baby’s condition or hospitalization.
- You find it difficult to determine what your baby wants.
- Your baby is at least 3 months old (3 months past your due date for preterm infants) and you would like a developmental evaluation.
- You find yourself avoiding the hospital.
- You worry that you are not bonding with your baby (e.g. you have a difficult time looking at your baby, feeling a desire to touch/hold your baby, play with your baby, or feel the baby is yours).
- You have experienced previous infant losses that are returning and coloring the way you view this baby.
As a partner on your child’s healthcare team, please feel free to contact Casey Hoffman-Craven, PhD, psychologist, at 215-590-5022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions or concerns.
Updated April 2012