Nurses use a scoring sheet to help them watch for signs of NAS. This score helps the team know if a baby has NAS. If a baby has a high score for a period of time, medication may help a baby be more comfortable. If a baby does get medicine, the medicine will be gradually lowered depending on each baby. Below are things you can do to help comfort your baby during this time.
Signs of NAS
Prolonged or high pitched cry
- Hold baby close to your body, skin to skin or lightly wrapped in a blanket. Be careful to not fall asleep while holding your baby.
- You might also try gentle rocking, talking, singing, and humming.
- Keep lights turned down and the room quiet.
Trouble falling asleep
- Turn down the lights, keep the room quiet or pat baby gently.
- Hold baby skin to skin. Be careful to not fall asleep.
- Soft gentle rocking may help.
- Think about checking for a clean diaper. Use diaper creams for rashes as needed.
- If hungry, offer breastfeeding of bottle. This probably is not the best time to get your baby on a schedule.
Excessive sucking of fists
- Feed your baby until he or she is full and calm.
- Consider a pacifier. But if your baby does not want the pacifier, do not force sucking.
- Think about using mittens if skin is damaged.
- Keep skin clean and avoid lotions on hands and arms since the baby may suck them.
Difficult or poor feeding
- Feed your baby small amounts often. You can work on a schedule once the baby is better.
- Feed your baby in a quiet room with low noises, lights and activities.
- Allow time for rest in between sucking.
- Limit family and friends so baby does not get handled too much.
Fever / sweating
- Keep clothing light, such as a t shirt.
- Avoid heavy clothes. You will want to be able dress your baby and change diapers easily.
- Think about using light swaddling and blankets.
Sneezing / stuffy nose or breathing troubles
- Keep your baby’s nose and mouth clean by using bulb suction. You may use saline drops if needed.
- Make sure blanket swaddling is not tight, since this might make it hard for your baby to breathe easily.
- Make sure to burp your baby each time he or she stops sucking as well as at the end of feeding.
- Keep your baby clean and the bedding free of vomit.
- Talk to your doctor if your baby has vomited medications.
Trembling / jittering
- Keep your baby in a warm quiet room.
- Avoid a lot of handling. When you do handle your baby, try to avoid any extra movements.
- Hold your baby to make him or her feel safe and loved.
Parents can help their baby best by staying nearby and holding their baby. Many parents find their baby calms best when handled gently, slowly and when held close to their body. This is because you and your baby know each other best. If you are worried or anxious, your baby can pick up your energy. If you find this to be true, try to take deep cleansing breaths and concentrate on calming yourself. If you need help, please ask a family member or friend. If you do not have resources close to you, call your baby’s doctor.