Home > Lifestyle > Family > Features
Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 9:47:00 AM
by susan schrock
Angelica Garcia, five, holds the rice baby she made as she visits her brother in the neonatal intensive care unit. – MCT
A Texas non-profit organisation creates dolls to help children with premature siblings.
Clutching her handmade rice doll to her chest, Angelica Garcia quietly sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to her newborn brother this week as he slept in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit at Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States.
It will be months before Jesus, born prematurely and weighing less than 1kg, will be able to join his mum Claudia Rodriguez and five-year-old sister Angelica at home. But the big sister is already preparing for that with the help of her doll, which she named after her brother.
“I have been practising with my rice baby,” said Angelica, who also sings lullabies to the doll. “My baby loves it a lot.”
For the past three years, NICU Helping Hands at Baylor All Saints has helped children like Angelica create dolls to understand how small their premature brothers or sisters really are. The older siblings fashion their dolls by filling a white sock with rice until it weighs what their new sibling did at birth. Each doll gets swaddled in a tiny, colourful blanket decorated with plastic eyes, pacifier and a baby hat.
Angelica, like many of the children, takes the doll everywhere, even on visits to the NICU, said Lisa Grubbs, NICU Helping Hands founder.
Older siblings “learn that the baby is very little and lightweight. They hold it and want to protect it,” Grubbs said. “They are very nurturing. It’s the first opportunity a sibling has to really make a connection with their new brother or sister.”
About 120 rice dolls have been created each year by families with premature babies since NICU Helping Hands started offering the activity at Baylor All Saints in 2011.
The national non-profit organisation, based in Fort Worth, also offers services such as bereavement support, programmes about infant nutrition and sleep safety, and training on what parents can expect medically and developmentally for their premature babies.
Rodriguez, 30, delivered her son in January, when he was nearly 16 weeks early. She doesn’t expect him to come home until her original due date in early May. Rodriguez said, she has enjoyed watching her daughter dote on the rice doll, which she recently brought to visit grandmother’s home.
“She carried him for the whole time. She cared for him like it was her actual brother,” Rodriguez said.
“To me, it did help her understand. She felt like it was her brother she was caring for.” – Fort Worth Star-Telegram/McClatchy Information Services
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Family Community, Premature babies, Doll, Pretend Play, Siblings, Family
Anifah Aman: Government will not 'rescue' child porn convict from British jail
Minister: Child porn convict 'sick', needs counselling
Dep IGP: Student in child porn case a free man after serving sentence
Rawang low-cost flats to have new JMB pro tem panels
Year Five pupil dies from suspected H1N1
A look at the Indian Muslim community in inner city
Charming palm-inspired bling
Tell us your stories
Bon Odori festival thrills crowd with folk dances and fireworks
‘Memory exercise keeps my mind active’
Food made with love
Southampton sign Caulker on loan after Gardos blow
U.S. democratic presidential hopeful Clinton to call for lifting Cuban embargo
Motorola unveils the new Moto G
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)