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Home at Last: From the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Learn how to get ready for when your baby comes home from the NICU.


You’ve been waiting days, weeks or maybe months for this day: the day you get to take your baby home. You probably feel a mixture of joy and fear. This is completely normal. It may feel scary to think about caring for your baby without the NICU staff to help you.

Before you take the baby home, the NICU staff will help you get ready. They’ll make sure you know how to give any medicines or use any equipment that might be going home with you. You may also:

  • Attend a discharge class. In a discharge class, you will learn more about giving your baby medicine, feeding, using the car seat correctly and other baby care tips.
  • Learn CPR. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a way to help a person whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing.
  • “Room in” with your baby. At some hospitals, parents are allowed to “room in” for a night or two. You and your baby will stay in a hospital room overnight. This will help you “practice” caring for your baby on your own. NICU staff will be nearby if you need them.

Before going home, you should:

  • Choose your baby’s pediatrician.
  • Make sure you have the right kind of rear-facing car seat. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital without one.
  • Learn how to use the car seat properly.
  • Prepare other family members for baby’s arrival home.
  • Make sure you understand how to use any medical equipment you’ll need at home.
  • Check that the electrical system in your home can handle medical equipment if your baby is being discharged with medical equipment.
  • Get baby supplies ready — diapers, wipes, blankets, bottles, bath time items, etc. The nurses can help you make a list.
  • Have the NICU phone number handy. The nurses there can answer your questions even after you’ve gone home.

Good questions

Don’t be shy about asking questions. The NICU staff wants to make sure you know what to do when you get home with your baby. It’s important that you feel as ready as possible. You might ask:

  • Are there special ways to care for a NICU baby at home?
  • When should I call the doctor or take the baby to the hospital?
  • How will I know if the baby is eating and sleeping enough?
  • Am I giving this medicine or using this equipment the right way?
  • When should I bring the baby in for our first pediatrician exam?


KidsHealth. Taking Your Preemie Home. Accessed March 20, 2018.
March of Dimes. Ready to go home. Accessed March 20, 2018.
March of Dimes. Continuing medical care after the NICU. Accessed March 20, 2018. Common Parent Reactions to the NICU. Accessed March 20, 2018.

Last Updated: March 20, 2018