To help make your baby’s homecoming smooth, safe and enjoyable, you should be involved in your baby’s care as much as possible. This will help you to be more comfortable with bathing, feeding, temperature-taking, and giving medicine, if necessary.
In general, an infant will be ready to go home when he/she:
Before your baby goes home from the NICU, you must choose a primary care doctor or clinic that will take care of your baby after discharge. The NICU doctor will contact the doctor you choose to review your baby’s care, and information about your baby will be sent to his office prior to your first visit. You will need to make an appointment for your baby to see the doctor within his or her first week at home. Find a TriHealth doctor.
Things that will be important to consider when choosing your doctor are:
Parent Education: When your baby is close to coming home, it is important to plan your time with baby in the hospital, so you can become more comfortable with the care he or she will need. In addition to ‘hands-on” care, you will need to view several educational videos before discharge.
The hospital also offers “TotSaver”, a three-hour course that teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques from the American Heart Association (AHA). It is designed to teach you how to recognize medical emergencies, seek emergency assistance for your infant and child, and how to perform CPR. TotSaver is a great course for parents, grandparents, older siblings and babysitters.
Rooming In: If you would like to become more comfortable with your baby’s care before going home, you may be interested in staying all day or overnight in a hospital room near the NICU. You can take care of all of your baby’s needs during that time – with your baby’s nurse nearby – should you need any assistance. Let your baby’s nurse know if you would like to room in.
Before your baby is discharged you will need to have:
When your baby is ready to go home from the hospital, he or she must ride in a suitable car seat. If your baby is small, you should take extra care in choosing a car seat. An infant-only, rear-facing car seat is necessary. You will be asked to bring in your baby’s car seat a few days before discharge so your baby’s car seat positioning can be checked. Your nurse will also review important information about car seat use.
Choose a car seat that:
If you are using a second-hand car seat, make sure:
When installing your baby's car seat:
You will be given information about the amount of breast milk or the amount and type of formula you should use for your baby’s feedings at home. Special formulas or nutritional additives may be prescribed by the doctor to meet the special growth needs of some infants born early or with digestive problems. It is very important not to change your baby’s formula without talking to his or her healthcare provider. Information concerning breast feeding frequency and use of supplements after breast feeding will also be discussed before discharge.
Placing your baby on his or her tummy while awake and while you are watching your baby is very important for development.
Do not smoke around your baby. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke have more respiratory illnesses, like colds, bronchitis, and ear infections, and have an increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A premature infant, or one who has had breathing problems while hospitalized is especially at risk. If you must smoke, please do so outside and change your clothing before caring for your baby. Smoking in another room does not protect the child from second-hand smoke and its effects.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis is removed. Circumcision is usually performed by a doctor in the first few days of life or before discharge from the nursery. An infant must be stable and healthy to safely be circumcised.
You will need to sign a special permit for this procedure so that it can be done before your baby goes home. The circumcision is done by your obstetrician. When done without pain medicine, circumcision is painful. There are pain medicines available that are safe and effective. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that they be used to reduce pain from circumcision.
Scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision. Parents may want their sons circumcised for religious, social, and cultural reasons. Since circumcision is not essential to a child’s health, parents should choose what is best for their child by looking at the benefits and risks. If you have questions about circumcision ask your obstetrician or pediatrician.
You will need to schedule your baby’s appointment with his or her pediatrician for within the first week of discharge. The NICU care coordinator will schedule any specialist appointments your baby may require.
Childhood immunizations (vaccines or baby’s shots) provide protection against several major diseases and help prevent illness. Immunizations begin in infancy and continue through childhood. Your baby may receive his first immunizations while still hospitalized. Hepatitis B vaccine is given to most babies before discharge. DPT (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus), HIB (haemophilus influenzae), and Prevnar (pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccines are usually given at 2 months of age. Your baby’s nurse will review immunization information with you before those immunizations are given.
Infants who are born prematurely and/or have Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)/Chronic Lung Disease may be at higher risk for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection. Respiratory infections caused by RSV are most common during the winter months and are usually mild, but can cause severe illness in infants who were born prematurely or who have lung problems. RSV illness usually occurs November through April, and may cause wheezing, nasal congestion, rapid breathing, cough, irritability, poor feeding, fever, and turning blue (cyanosis).
Hearing is very important to growth and development. Every baby receives a hearing screen before going home from the hospital. The results of the hearing screen will be given to the parents. You will be notified if any follow-up testing is needed.