NICU: Taking Your Baby Home
At the Wasie NICU and our sister NICU locations, we know that bringing your baby home is your priority – and our team is here to help make that a reality. In addition to providing exemplary neonatal care, your baby’s skilled care team is here to offer support, education and to help create a positive healing environment for you and your baby.
Hands-On Teaching in the NICU
Teaching starts on your baby’s first day in the NICU – and our entire team is committed to helping you learn the necessary skills to take your baby home safely. We encourage NICU parents to spend as much time as possible at their baby’s bedside. The more time you spend caring for your infant, the more comfortable you will be with them – which ultimately shortens the length of time your baby needs to stay in the NICU.
Throughout your baby’s NICU stay, parents and caregivers have lots of hands-on learning moments. Many NICU babies require complex medical care, and even tasks like feeding your baby or changing a diaper can feel overwhelming in the beginning. Our compassionate NICU nurses are here to show you how to best care for your baby to meet their needs – and to give you and your baby as many opportunities as possible to bond. Our NICU lactation team is also available to help you with breastfeeding, pumping and collecting and storing your breast milk.
Reading to your baby throughout their NICU stay and when you return home is one of the best ways to support your baby’s growth and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 15-20 minutes of reading daily for all babies and children. Children who read daily with their families can also have an easier time learning to read and enjoying school.
Preparing for Baby to Come Home
As your baby gets closer to discharge, our NICUs offer parents the opportunity to stay overnight to care for your baby. Spending the night in the NICU is an excellent opportunity to provide hands-on care to your baby under the watchful eye of our NICU team.
As you grow more comfortable providing care to your baby, our team will begin transitioning more tasks to your care, such as administering medication, bathing your baby, organizing a strict feeding schedule and more. We want you to feel as confident and prepared as possible before bringing your baby home.
Back-to-sleep preparedness is also vital to promote safe sleep. At home, your baby needs to have a dedicated crib space free from blankets, stuffed animals and bumpers to reduce their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Our NICU team is committed to teaching parents about safe sleep, which includes always putting your baby to sleep on their back in the crib and not co-sleeping.
All three Memorial Family Birthplace locations offer a Baby Care and Infant Safety and CPR online classes for parents, grandparents or even aunts and uncles. We recommend taking the Infant Safety and CPR class before you take your baby home. If you have questions about how to sign up, ask your nurse navigator for details.
In addition, our Resources for NICU Parents page includes ideas on how family and friends can offer support during your baby’s NICU stay.
Bringing Your Baby Home from the NICU
Your baby is ready to come home when they meet all of their milestones – and when you are prepared to take over as full-time caretaker. Our team knows it can be overwhelming to think about caring for your baby outside of the NICU, but our team has confidence that you and your baby will do great at home.
As your baby gets closer to going home, the discharge team will work closely with you to determine if your baby will need referrals to any of our Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital specialty clinics. We will help coordinate any specialist appointments like cardiology or ophthalmology, as well as speech language pathology, physical therapy and occupational therapy appointments. Our social workers will also facilitate the delivery of at-home medical equipment like oxygen or vent care supplies.
All babies born at less than 37 weeks gestation need to have a car seat test prior to discharge, whether they are in the NICU or the Family Birthplace. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for car seat tests, your baby will be placed in their car seat for 90 minutes directly following a feeding. The test monitors the baby’s heart rate and oxygen saturation to make sure both stay stable throughout the 90 minute test.
Once Your Baby is Home
We want to make sure that you feel supported and empowered while bringing your baby home. We know this is a moment you’ve dreamed of – and we are here to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Our discharge team puts together comprehensive binders with care instructions and reminders for our babies requiring complex care for at-home reference – we know there is so much to remember.
Your baby should have a follow-up visit with their pediatrician one day after NICU discharge, so we encourage our parents to schedule the appointment accordingly. We also recommend:
- Avoiding crowded areas
- Frequently use hand sanitizer
- Limiting visitors, especially during cold and flu season
- Keeping your baby home unless for a doctor’s appointment
- Washing your hands each time before picking up your baby
Remember – you and your baby will always be a part of our NICU family. Our team is just a phone call away if you have any non-emergency questions or concerns.
Helping to Improve the NICU Experience
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is dedicated to ensuring that all patients receive the best possible care and have a positive experience while in the NICU. We also know that former families have unique insights into how we can improve the NICU environment for future parents. That’s why we created our NICU Patient and Family Advisory Council as a way to receive feedback from families with experience in our NICUs. We are always looking for former NICU parents to share their experiences and bring their unique perspectives to help us continually improve. Learn more about how to get involved today.