Visitors and visiting after coming home from the NICU

Babies who have been in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are often at higher risk of getting an infection than other infants. So you need to be careful where you take the baby and who comes to visit her. You don't need to stay in your house alone for the first months after your baby comes home. But you do need to take special care.

Medical staff may tell you to:

  • Limit the number of visitors to your home.
  • Limit the number of people who touch your baby.
  • Avoid taking your baby to crowded places, such as shopping malls and grocery stores.

If you do have visitors:

  • Make sure they wash their hands before touching the baby.
  • Do not let adults or children who are sick, have a fever, or have been exposed to an illness near your baby.
  • Tell visitors they can't smoke in your house.

By all means, take your babies for walk outside in comfortable weather, and go visit friends and relatives. Just make sure that your baby is going to a home that is smoke-free and illness-free.

See also: Share your story

August 2009

Most common questions

How do I calculate adjusted age for preemies?

Chronological age is the age of a baby from the day of birth. Adjusted age is the age of the baby based on his due date. To calculate adjusted age, take your baby's chronological age (for example, 20 weeks) and subtract the number of weeks premature the baby was (6 weeks). This baby's adjusted age (20 - 6) is 14 weeks. Health care providers may use this age when they evaluate the baby's growth and development. Most premature babies catch up to their peers developmentally in 2 to 3 years. After that, differences in size or development are most likely due to individual differences, rather than to premature birth. Some very small babies take longer to catch up.

Is it OK to invite people over after leaving the NICU?

Babies who've been in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) are often at higher risk of getting an infection than other babies. Be careful where you take the baby and who comes to visit her. But you don't need to stay in your house alone for the first months after your baby comes home.

If you do have visitors, make sure they wash their hands before touching the baby. Also, don't let adults or children who are sick, have a fever or have been exposed to an illness near her. Lastly, ask visitors not to smoke in your house.

My baby has developmental delays. Where can I find help?

Some babies leave the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) just fine while others may have developmental delays. The earlier these delays are identified and treated, the more likely your baby will be able to reach his potential later in life. Most NICU babies will be evaluated before leaving the NICU to see their strengths and any areas that can be improved. If you think your baby has developmental delays, talk to his health care provider about where to find early intervention services. Contact state and local programs for help.

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