PUT THE BUNNY BACK! Female cottontail rabbits do not stay with their babies like other mammals because they are prey animals and their best defense is not to draw predators to the nest. A typical bunny nest is just a hole in the ground covered with a mixture of rabbit fur and grass or leaves. The mother rabbit will return to the nest twice during the NIGHT to feed the babies. If you accidentally uncover a nest of baby bunnies, chances are mom is still around, but not where you can see her so please just cover the nest up and PUT THE BUNNY BACK.
If you have a dog in the yard where you locate a nest of cottontail babies, you can protect the babies by covering the nest during the day with a box or a gardening pot, and then remove the cover at dusk so the mother can reach the babies during the night feedings. If you are unsure if the mother is coming to feed the babies, you can pick up one of the babies and look at the belly to see if it is full of mother's milk.
** The mother will continue to care for the baby, even if you have touched it. **
If the bunny TRULY needs help, place it in a container with soft fleece or soft cloth and put the container in a quiet, dark place away from children & pets. If the baby is cold to the touch, you can add a heated sock with dry rice or beans, or use hand warmers wrapped in a towel. Place the bunny near the heat source but not on top of. Baby bunnies are very delicate and can easily die quickly if stressed so please, DO NOT HANDLE MORE THAN NEEDED OR TRY TO FEED THE BUNNIES.