Originally published on Aug. 5, 2018.

Time is a funny thing. I work in the community, mostly, and often work with children and families over months and years.

When I first started working in an acute hospital setting, one of the things that struck me was that time is experienced very differently there.

In the community, I might agree a plan for a child's feeding, and come back in a week or a month to see what impact has been made. In the community, this might feel like a short time-frame.

In the neonatal unit, I was astonished at first that I would put a plan in place for a baby, and that I would return two or three days later to find it had been changed. I complained to the Sister that my plans were not being followed. The response was "well what do you expect? The staff hadn't heard from you, so they didn't know what the plan was". The idea that the plan might be exactly the same as it was when I was last on the ward just hadn't occured to anyone.

This brings me to one of the more difficult jobs of the Speech and Language Therapist: slowing down time. I talk to Parents about this a lot. In an acute medical environment, a few hours can be a long time, with many medical decisions made, and huge changes in the medical status of your baby. It can be easy for us to respond to this pace by subconsciously picking up a sense of 'a need for speed'. One of the things I have noticed that Families find difficult when coming home from hospital is this change in pace.

It is one of our tasks to try to create a 'bubble' around feeding for a baby and feeder, in which the world moves on the baby's time.

Babies do not know what time of day it is, or what our expectations of them are. In my experience, we are rarely successful when we try to impose our own timeframes on them.

It can be really difficult as a Parent on the Neonatal unit to claim the time you need for and with your baby, when everyone else seems to know what they are doing, and they all seem to move very fast.

My hope is that your Speech and Language Therapist will give you permission to take all the time you and your baby need.

Posts from Find the Key Speech Therapy are intended for information. They are not intended to, and cannot take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language therapist who knows your child. Find the Key Speech Therapy does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.