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Baby is coming home from the NICU!

When baby is released from the hospital after spending time in the NICU, it is so exciting (and overwhelming) to welcome them home. So how can you best prepare to bring baby home after being discharged from the NICU?

Why would baby be in the NICU? There are many different reasons why baby may spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit, also known as the NICU. If baby is born early, or if they have other health issues at birth, doctors may recommend time in the NICU. This is so they can receive the best care while they grow and become stronger!

First, when will baby be sent home from the NICU? There is no definite length of time baby should stay in the NICU. If baby is premature and spends time in the NICU, they will sometimes go home before their due date, and sometimes they need to stay after their original due date. Some signs healthcare professionals look for to discharge baby are:

  • No infections present.
  • Baby is able to feed.
  • Temperature is stable and typical for at least 1 day.
  • Baby can breathe without assistance.
  • Baby is able to gain weight.
  • Baby passes any other tests that healthcare providers give.

How can you prepare for baby to come home from the NICU? Here are some tips to help you feel prepared!

  • While your baby is in the NICU, make sure you keep in touch with your baby’s nurse, either when you are with your baby in the NICU or by phone. This way you will be staying up to date with your baby’s development and your baby’s changing needs.
  • Before baby leaves the NICU, ask baby’s healthcare provider if there is any special care you need to know for baby. For example, does baby have a special way of feeding? Does baby have any medications? Do you need to know CPR?
  • Ask questions to baby’s healthcare provider and make sure you know how to contact them if you have any follow-up questions.
  • Check out our parent checklist for tips about welcoming baby home.
  • Learn about safe sleep. Remember baby should sleep alone and on their back.
  • Install a car seat to bring baby home. Sometimes the NICU wants to make sure the baby fits well in your car seat. They may ask you to bring the car seat into the NICU and they would do a car seat safety test. Ask your nurse if they will need you to do that.
  • Have a Tummy Time Plan. Learn more about doing Tummy Time with a baby in the NICU.
  • Track baby’s development. Download our FREE app to automatically adjust for prematurity (if needed) and track baby’s milestones and abilities!
  • Play games with baby to encourage development and keep them active and growing! Download our FREE app to get weekly game suggestions perfect for baby’s age.

Adjusting to have a little one at home is always exciting—but it can also be challenging! Remember to reach out for support if you need it. Learn more about adjusting to changes as a parent.