"In Touch With Experts, LIVE" presents "Is Parent-Baby PLAY Possible in the NICU?" with Dr. Jacqueline M. McGrath

"In Touch With Experts, LIVE" presents "Is Parent-Baby PLAY Possible in the NICU?" with Dr. Jacqueline M. McGrath

“In Touch With Experts, LIVE" is an initiative by Kangaroo Care Day and brings evidence-based topics in plain English to parents and clinicians.

This session is presented by Kangaroo Care Day in collaboration with the following organizations that are created by parents to assist other parents: The Zaky, Antonia and Grace, Jennifer Degl, NICU Alumni, NICU Parent Network, Preemie World, Hand to Hold.

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Parents know and interact with their babies through play.  The NICU may seem difficult, but can it still be done?
Dr. McGrath will talk about infant cues and describe PLAY in the NICU, what is “gentle touch,” when it is appropriate to give a massage, what to look for, plus she will answer questions from the participants. 
PLAY can begin soon after birth, as long as parents learn to provide it with attention to the baby’s cues. What happens during PLAY changes over time as the baby matures and grows and can enjoy the interaction.



After a brief introduction, we started an informal conversation and Q&A between Dr. McGrath and the participants. Yamile Jackson, Ph.D. (The Zaky) and Marie Boone-Clark (Antonia & Grace) moderated this session.


  • Parents of family members of babies in the NICU or any hospital unit.
  • Parents of babies now at home.
  • Clinicians that care for babies and are interested in the developmental outcomes of the patients.
  • Anyone interested in learning about play, touch, and interaction, and the science behind it - in lay terms.

    Jacqueline M. McGrath PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN

    Dr. Jacqueline McGrath is the Thelma and Joe Crowe Endowed Professor and Vice Dean for Faculty Excellence at the UTH San Antonio, School of Nursing.

    Dr. McGrath is an excellent scholar and teacher. She has mentored more than 20 PhD students among more than 50 mentees at all levels across her career trajectory.

    Research foci include integration of family-centered and developmentally supportive caregiving with high-risk and premature infants and their families in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

    More specifically, her work has focused on the biobehavioral outcomes related to increasing parent engagement for both parents and the infant.

    Increasing parent engagement in the NICU is believed to be a mechanism for influencing the development of parent self-management skills after infant discharge and ultimately enhancing infant long-term developmental outcomes.

    She has also conducted studies related to preterm infants’ oral feeding readiness and preterm infant touch and massage (parent provided). Based on her research, she developed the NICU-PLAY program for parents and their hospitalized preterm infants.

    She has been funded by NIH/NINR, the American Nurses Foundation, as well as other foundations. She is well-known in the field for her scholarly publications, with more than 140 peer-reviewed articles, 125+ editorials and short manuscripts as well more than 35+ book chapters.

    Since 2014, Dr. McGrath has been the Co-Editor for Advances in Neonatal Care the journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. She is also the Co-Editor for Developmental Care for Newborns and Infants: A Guide for Health Professions, 2nd edition. The third edition will be in print by the end of 2021.

    In 2007, Dr. McGrath became a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses in 2017. She received her BSN from the University of Akron; MSN from Kent State University in parent-child nursing; both a post-master’s certificate as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. As a truly excellent mentor and teacher, Dr. McGrath believes leadership is seeing the brilliance in other people and creating joy at work is central to success.



    Mary Coughlin will be our guest and her session is “Where is the love; getting to the heart of trauma informed care”
    February 9th, 2022 at 11am CST



    Presented by Kangaroo Care Day
    "In touch with experts: LIVE" Educational series
    in collaboration with


    ABOUT KANGAROO CARE DAY: The International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day is an initiative founded by Yamile Jackson, Ph.D., PE, PMP on behalf of her son, Zachary, and is now celebrated in NICUs globally on May 15th since 2011. Visit www.kangaroo.care

    Click here for information about The Zaky ZAK Device for safe kangaroo care engineered by Yamile Jackson. Click here for the publications and science that supports The Zaky ZAK

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