A Dundee mother is raising money to buy books for every baby admitted to Ninewells Hospital’s neonatal unit this year.
Nicola Donnelly wants to spread the message about the benefits of reading to babies born sick or premature.
The 34-year-old is hoping to provide enough books to the neo-natal ward for parents to read to their babies, which can help them bond even when they are inside an incubator.
Her son, Leo, was born 14 weeks early in June 2017 at UCL Hospital, London.
When he was only three weeks old, Leo was transferred to Ninewells and had to spend a further eight weeks in an incubator with very limited physical contact with his parents.
Midwives recommended reading to Leo would help the bonding process, as well as aiding his brain development.
“While the medical team was in charge of his physical care, we wanted to look after his emotional needs,” said Nicola.
“He would hear our voices, hear language, hear sounds and that would make his brain fire up and make his little neurons work hard in building all the pathways that he needed to put to work to thrive and develop.”
After Leo was discharged, Nicola started collecting books for families going through similar strains.
Over the festive season she delivered copies of The Night Before Christmas to each baby receiving treatment in the unit.
She added: “I wanted to do something meaningful that would help the babies and their families improve their well-being in some way.
“You can feel quite helpless sometimes around all the machines and highly trained staff.”
Nicola wants to raise £3,000 to buy 500 books for 500 babies in the unit.
Author Gill White donated 10 copies of Leo and the Lightning Dragons to Nicola. Gill wrote the book for her son who is also called Leo.
Donations can be made at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/500booksfor500babies.