Pregnant woman cradling her belly.

Raising your premature baby

A guide for moms with preemies

Bringing your premature baby home

Get started and settled in with helpful tips to make the transition a smooth one.

All parents look forward to the day when they can finally bring their baby home. Being prepared can help you relieve anxiety and better manage unexpected and unfamiliar events.

Consider the following before you bring home your baby:

Choose your pediatrician . Find a pediatrician with experience in caring for premature infants. Invite your pediatrician to the hospital to meet your NICU team and to create a smooth transition.

Schedule your baby's first checkup . Schedule your baby's first visit to the pediatrician within two days of leaving the NICU. Also schedule appointments with any specialists, if needed. If you receive papers or discharge instructions related to caring for your preemie when you leave the hospital, be sure to take them to your baby’s first pediatrician visit.

Get some hands-on practice . Ask your NICU team to let you practice feeding and bathing your baby, giving medications, and using any special equipment before you bring your baby home.

Learn CPR . It is important training for all parents, and can give you peace of mind.

Take good notes . Writing down all instructions your doctor and NICU team give you about how often and how much to feed your baby, and any other specific care instructions, will help you feel more confident in caring for your baby.

Get your NICU department's phone number . Keep it by your home phones and store it in your mobile phone, too.

Settle in with some helpful hints

Bringing home baby and adjusting to life at home together is a learning experience for newborns and parents alike. It could take several weeks for your baby to get into a regular eating, sleeping, and waking routine, and for you to feel rested, positive, and confident in your decisions. It is important to keep in mind several points to ensure your baby's continued development and welfare during — and after — this transition:

Keep it comfortable . Premature babies do not have much fat at first, and might have trouble staying warm or adjusting to temperature changes. Make sure to keep your baby's room at a comfortable temperature.

Fight germs . Your baby's immune system will need a few weeks to adjust before you have visitors. Once she's ready, make sure all visitors are healthy before touching or holding your baby. Ensure that they wash their hands with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer.

Bathe regularly . Babies only need to be bathed two to three times a week during the first year of life. Keep the room warm and free of drafts during bathing, and use smooth, soothing motions when washing. Swaddle your baby in a soft towel after the bath to keep him warm.

Crib safety . The slats on your baby's crib should be close together (no more than 2-3/8 inches apart) so his head does not get caught. Check that the mattress is firm and fits snugly to the crib's frame. There should be no more than a thin, tight-fitting sheet on the mattress. Soft, bulkier items, such as blankets and stuffed animals, could block your baby's breathing, so keep them out of his crib.

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