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About Small Wonders

The Small Wonders DVD and National Change Programme aims to support families of sick and premature babies to be at the centre of their baby’s care in ways that are known to improve health outcomes.

Around one in 13 babies in the UK is born prematurely or sick. Having a premature or sick baby can be a very challenging and isolating experience.

The importance of breast milk for premature and sick babies’ development and the associated reduction in infections and costs for hospitals are well established. However, breast milk expression and breastfeeding rates for sick and premature babies vary considerably in hospitals across the UK. Small Wonders aims to increase rates of breast milk that premature babies receive and increase skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, ultimately improving health outcomes for sick and premature babies.

Small Wonders DVD

At the heart of the Small Wonders National Change Programme is the Small Wonders DVD; a series of films that follow fourteen families on their journey from birth, to first contact with their baby, to one year on.

The DVD contains the following 12 films, (each of the 12 films is broken down into a number of chapters so parents can find just the bit they need):

  1. Introduction (7 minutes)
  2. Birth (11 minutes)
  3. First hours (20 minutes)
  4. Expressing breast milk (24 minutes)
  5. Holding your baby (19 minutes)
  6. Your time in hospital (20 minutes)
  7. Feeding independently (19 minutes)
  8. Preparing for home (15 minutes)
  9. First Months at home (19 minutes)
  10. Twins and triplets (19 minutes)
  11. Bereavement (24 minutes)
  12. One year on (8 minutes)

You can watch the Small Wonders DVD online here.

Best Beginnings worked closely with over 200 families and expert profes­sionals to produce and pilot these films and the DVD has been endorsed by over 20 organisations, including UNICEF and RCPCH.  It is the first DVD of its kind and follows real parents’ experiences of having a sick or premature baby.

The films aim to increase families’ awareness of the benefits of breast milk for babies and of parents having skin-to skin contact with their babies. They also contain expert advice and ‘show how’ examples of these practices, to build parents’ confidence to be at the centre of their babies’ care, for example by changing their baby’s nappy. The DVD is also a resource for healthcare professionals to use to support and enhance hospital practice.

Launch of Small Wonders DVD across the UK

In April 2012 the DVD was launched to staff in English hospitals, since then over 78,000 copies of the Small Wonders DVD have been distributed to 143 of the 171 hospitals in England with a neonatal unit. DVDs were sent out once they nominated Champions (see below) and returned their 'Champion Planning Forms' (which act as an order form). The DVD is now being disseminated in Northern Ireland thanks to funding from the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency and they are soon to be distributed in Scotland thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

Small Wonders Champions

Best Beginnings is committed to working collaboratively to drive change. We have recruited over 424 Small Wonders Champions in hospitals across the UK. In England, of the 171 hospitals with neonatal units, 163 have Champions. In the other three nations we are working collaboratively to ensure the same "take-up". To learn more about Small Wonders Champions click here.

Small Wonders National Change Programme

The Small Wonders DVD is at the heart of a National Change Programme.  Working closely with professionals and hospitals across the UK, the change programme has been designed to ensure that the DVDs are used effectively as a tool to enhance family-centred practice and that families receive the resource in a way that supports them to be at the cornerstone of their baby’s care.

Intensive intervention and evaluation
As part of the Small Wonders Change Programme Best Beginnings i sundertaking an intensive intervention and evaluation programme at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital and Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust to embed and evaluate the impact of Small Wonders. Two Band 7 research nurses have been employed full time to manage the roll-out of Small Wonders across these three sites. We are undertaking a robust evaluation of the intervention by looking at pre and post intervention data to assess the impact that Small Wonders has on breasfeeding rates, parents' experience and staffs' confidence and knowledge around family centred care.

“Getting it Right from the Start” Small Wonders Neonatal Workshop

As part of the intensive intervention, Best Beginnings has been working with Julie Watson and the Yorkshire and Humber HIEC (Health Innovation & Education Cluster) at the Mother & Infant Research Unit (University of York) to co-develop the Best Beginnings ‘Getting it Right from the Start’ Small Wonders Neonatal Workshop, which is being piloted at the three sites, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, King’s College Hospital and Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust. For further information on the workshop and its' evaluation please click here.

Neonatal Unit Clinical Assessment Tool (NUCAT)

To aid the evaluation of the intensive intervention Best Beginnings, in collaboration with Health Behaviour Research Limited, Coventry University and an expert working group, developed a new clini­cal assessment tool called NUCAT. NUCAT is now available for use across all UK units; to find out more about NUCAT and how you can administer it in your hospital please click here.

Peer Supporters Project
In addition to the above, in Liverpool Women's NHS Trust Best Beginnings has also developed and is piloting a course to support and train parents who have had a baby on the neonatal unit to be ‘Peer Supporters’ who can support other parents through their experiences.


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