Support the work of the National Maternity Hospital Foundation >

In the NICU - Your baby


How your baby is positioned in their incubator is important for how they learn how to move. Good positioning helps your baby to feel secure and nurtured. It is the first step in supporting how your baby learns to move.

Term babies have a ‘curled-up’ (flexed) posture, while preterm babies tend to be less curled-up (flexed) and appear floppy (hypotonic) and weaker.

Preterm babies’ muscles are not as strong as full-term babies are. If your baby is not supported, their arms and legs will tend to fall away from their body with their head falling to one side. Preterm babies’ movements may be jerky or shaky.

Why supported positions and nesting in NICU are important

Important notes about positioning your baby lying on their tummy and nesting

When your baby goes home, please follow Safe Sleep Guidelines, see Sleep and Sleep Safety. Lying your baby on their tummy can only be used while your baby is being monitored in the neonatal unit.

When your baby is in a cot, we stop using nests as your baby must learn to sleep on their back. Nests are only used while your baby is in the neonatal unit. Do not use nests at home for sleeping. Do not allow baby to sleep lying on their tummy at home, due to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).


Follow ‘Safe Sleep’ guidelines and lay your baby on their back on a flat mattress to sleep, see ‘Sleep and sleep safety’.