Taking Your Baby Home

Taking Your Baby Home

Woman securing baby in carrier.

Most parents are excited to take their baby home after days or weeks in the NICU. But the
idea can make some parents nervous. When a baby is ready to go home depends on many things.
Each baby must be checked to see if he or she is ready. And, the family must be prepared to
give special care the baby may need.

The American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) has a policy statement on when high-risk newborn babies should go home. The
information below about discharge is based on those guidelines. Ask your baby’s healthcare
provider for more information, based on the needs of your child.

In general, babies may be ready to go
home when they:

  • Are steadily gaining weight

  • Have a stable temperature in a
    regular crib

  • Can feed from a bottle or the
    breast without trouble breathing or other problems

  • Have mature and stable heart and
    breathing ability

Babies also need:

  • Vaccines 

  • Screening tests, including
    vision and hearing

  • Exams to look for other
    problems

  • Treatment plans for on-going
    medical problems

Parents and other home caregivers need
instruction in:

  • Feeding

  • Basic baby care (baths, skin
    care, and taking temperature)

  • Infant CPR (cardiopulmonary
    resuscitation)

  • Symptoms of illness

  • Sleep positioning and car seat
    safety

  • Use and care of special medical
    devices or equipment

  • Giving medicines

  • Doing special procedures or care
    such as suctioning or special dressings

The follow-up care plan for each baby includes finding a primary
healthcare provider and specialists to help with any special needs of the baby. Parents
also need to get the home ready for the baby. This may include: 

  • Arranging for special home care services or equipment
  • Not smoking in the house
  • Making sure there are no extra blankets, toys, or other objects in
    the baby’s bed

If possible, request a parenting
room so you can stay with your baby 1 or 2 nights before taking your baby home. This often
helps parents feel more secure because. You can take over the care of your baby with nurses
and other care providers nearby. Ask if your hospital has a hotline number or call center
you can call if you have questions once you take your baby home.