Gentle Hands Program

Building a healthy relationship with your newborn depends on your ability to interpret your baby’s subtle messages and to recognize when to offer the comfort of your face, voice, or a gentle touch. Babies in the intensive care nursery can appear so fragile that many parents are hesitant to touch and hold them. The Gentle Hands Program teaches parents how to touch, hold, massage, and bathe their baby—using their infant’s signs of readiness as a guide. Children's Hospital Oakland's child development specialists help parents gain confidence caring for their infant by encouraging bonding moments. Research shows us that medically-challenged infant who receive touch may feed better, sleep more, have greater weight gain, and go home faster.

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Why Families Choose Us

One of California’s Top-Ranked NICU Departments

  • Each year, more than 450 of our community's most medically-fragile infants begin their journey with a stay in the Children’s Hospital Oakland Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
  • Thanks to our team of specially-trained experts, cutting-edge technological resources, and a wide range of advanced newborn services like the Gentle Hands Program, Children’s pediatric intensive care survival rate is one of the highest in the country.

Empowered Parents, Interactive Care

  • The sophisticated medical interventions that keep babies in the NICU alive can be overwhelming and stressful for both babies and parents. Our goal is to make the experience in the nursery as sensitive to the child’s development needs as we can, while empowering families in the care of their babies.
  • In many pediatric hospitals, families are left outside of the care circle. At Children’s Hospital Oakland, we ensure that the infants' families become an integral part of the team caring for their child right from the start.

Gentle Hands Program for NICU Families

  • The Gentle Hands Program provides individual expert guidance for your first physical interactions with your child.
  • Once your baby is medically stable, our specialists encourage skin-to-skin holding and parent interaction wherever possible.