Caring For Baby After The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Here are some ideas to help you settle into caring for your baby at home following a NICU stay.
If your baby still needs a lot of special care after you’re home, the hospital might arrange for a home-care nurse to visit and help out. The visiting nurse can help make the transition easier for you.
Here are some other things to think about when you’re home:
- Limit visitors for the first few weeks. It may be too stressful for the baby, and too tiring for you. You also want to keep your baby from catching any illnesses.
- When you do have visitors, make sure they wash their hands.
- Make sure anyone who will be near the baby is up to date with their vaccines such as Tdap: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
- Anyone in contact with the baby should not smoke at any time.
- Don’t take the baby out in public, except for doctor appointments, until your doctor gives the OK. This is extra important in the cold winter months. When the weather is nice, fresh air is good for baby.
- Most babies should be put to sleep on their backs. This is the safest way for most babies to sleep. Some premature babies should sleep on their side. Ask your doctor which way is best for your baby.
- Give your baby lots of love! Kangaroo care is especially good for premature babies.
As babies grow, they reach developmental milestones. Milestones are things like rolling over, sitting and crawling. Some babies who were born in the NICU may not reach these milestones when expected. Talk to your pediatrician about what to watch for.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that babies receive immunizations, also called vaccines. These are shots that are given at specific times that help prevent diseases. Your pediatrician will tell you when your baby should get these shots. You can also check the CDC website for up-to-date information on immunizations at cdc.gov/vaccines/.
You’ve got this!
You and your newborn have been through a lot. Even though you’re out of the hospital, you may still feel worried about your baby. This is especially true if your baby still needs special medicines or machines.
Get help from friends and family. Take care of your own health as you recover from childbirth and the stress of the NICU. Pat yourself on the back for getting through this time. And celebrate every day with your special child.
Always call your doctor or the NICU nurses any time you have questions. We all want what you want: health and happiness for you and your family.
KidsHealth. Taking Your Preemie Home. Accessed March 20, 2018.
March of Dimes. Continuing medical care after the NICU. Accessed March 20, 2018.
Healthychildren.org. Going Home With Your Preemie. Accessed March 20, 2018.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Aged 18 Years or Younger. Accessed March 20, 2018.
Last Updated: March 20, 2018