Tuesday, January 22, 2008


When your baby is in the NICU, family and friends will naturally want to visit. Keeping these things in mind will help keep you sane and your baby healthy.

NICU rules – every NICU has their own rules about who can visit. Most have a two-person bedside limit with one person being a parent. Some NICUs allow only grandparents or siblings to visit. Others leave it up to the parents. Once you know the rules – please try and follow them. It makes it easier on everyone.

Preparing Visitors. Visiting a baby in the NICU can be an overwhelming experience. Here are some steps you can take to help make the visit a better experience for everyone involved.

Your baby – if your baby was born very small or with a lot of issues, prepare your visitors for what they will see. Let them know that there are a lot of machines, wires, and tubes hooked to your baby. Show them a picture (if possible) so that they have an idea of what they will be seeing.

The NICU – let visitors know that when they go into the NICU rooms, they need to act is if your baby is the only baby there. People are naturally curious about babies and given the openness of most NICUs, this idea can be really hard to understand. Explain that patient privacy is important and this rule is in effect for everyone.

Being Healthy – Everyone you know will be excited to see your baby. As the parent, you need to make sure that everyone realizes that keeping your baby healthy and germ-free is important. People have different ideas of what healthy means – maybe they were coughing earlier but now they are fine. Or their kids are sick but they don’t have a cold. If someone has experienced cold symptoms or has recently been exposed to someone with a cold, they should wait to visit your baby. This can be really hard to explain but if a baby gets an infection, it can be fatal. I got two colds while my daughter was in the NICU and as much as it hurt, I didn’t get to see her for 7 days while I got completely healthy.

Washing – Most (if not all) NICUs require you to wash and scrub your hands before entering. Make sure that all of your visitors do wash their hands. If the NICU has a suggested time limit – try and stick to it. This will help keep your baby healthy.

Timing – Try and space out visits/visitors so that you don’t have a revolving door of people coming to see your baby all at once. This will make it easier on you and the nurses who have to get their work done while you are there.

Interaction – Depending on what is allowed for your baby, encourage visitors to talk to and/or touch your baby. This interaction may be determined by your baby’s status or by you. Make it clear ahead of time so that people aren’t surprised when they get there.

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