Parents are key members of the NICU team.
Our goal is to involve you as fully as possible in the care of your baby. We hope the following information will help.
Caring for your baby in the NICU
Feeding Your Baby
At first, most babies get their fluids by vein. We begin to give your baby breast milk or formula as soon as his or her condition allows. Many babies especially those weighing less than 1500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces) are often fed through a feeding tube at first. When your baby is ready, he or she will begin breast/bottle feeding. Nurses and lactation consultants will help support you when feeding your baby, as often babies in the NICU have unique needs when learning to feed.
If you planned to breast feed your baby, we encourage you to keep your plans. We will help you learn how to collect and store your milk until your baby is ready to nurse at your breast. When your baby is ready, we will help you with breastfeeding or with the change from bottle to breastfeeding. Breast pumps are available for you to use while you’re in the hospital or visiting your baby. If your baby will be hospitalized for a long time, having a pump at home will be important. Ask your baby’s nurse, the lactation consultant, or the NICU social worker for more information.
If you need help with breastfeeding, call the Breastfeeding Hotline at (585) 275-9575. A consultant is available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Breastfeeding and Lactation Support for Mothers
(585) 276-MILK or
Holding Your Baby
Being able to hold your baby is an important part of bonding. Skin-to-skin care, sometimes called kangaroo care, is a special way parents can hold and bond with their baby. It also has benefits for your baby such as helping to keep them warm and reducing stress. It may not be safe to move your baby out of bed; please check with your nurse about other ways you can care for and comfort your baby.
Clothing and Toys for Your Baby
You may bring outfits, hats, and special blankets. While your baby is in the isolette, he or she will just be wearing a diaper, so we may better observe him or her.
Infant stimulation is necessary for your baby’s growth and development. Toys or gifts you can bring for your baby include:
- Small plastic or rubber toys
- Small stuffed animals
- Musical toys
- Pictures of family members or those colored by brothers and sisters
- Tapes with your voice or store-bought tapes
Remember, the isolette is small. Also, remember to label items with your baby’s name.
Preparing for Discharge from the NICU
When Your Baby is Ready to Leave the NICU
On the day your baby is admitted to the NICU, we like to begin thinking about the day you will take your baby home. We want you to start talking, singing, and reading to your baby as soon as your baby is stable. We would like you to join in the baby’s care by changing the baby’s diaper, taking the baby’s temperature, and talking with the nurse about your baby’s care. We want you to have a chance to feed your baby many times before you take your baby home. We have daily classes so you can learn about baby care. We will teach you special things you need to know about your baby before you take him or her home. Your baby may need to go home with medicines, and we will teach you how to give those. Your baby may need special equipment, and we will teach you about that before you take your baby home. If there is anything special you want to learn (like infant CPR), let us know and we will teach it to you.
The staff of the NICU looks at many factors to determine when a baby can go home. All signs are positive when your baby is able to:
- Take all feedings by mouth
- Maintain his/her temperature in an open bed
- No longer requires oxygen or monitors
By visiting your baby regularly, you can work with our staff in planning for your baby to go home.
As soon as you know who your baby’s doctor will be after he or she goes home, tell us. If you don't have a primary care physician for your baby, our staff can help you find one. We will talk with your baby’s doctor so he or she will know your baby was in the NICU and what happened while your baby was with us.
Transferring to Another Medical Unit
Your baby may be well enough to leave the NICU, but might not be ready to go home with you. Although your baby may not need intensive care he or she may still need special care. Your baby may need antibiotics, time to gain weight and grow, or more monitoring for apnea and bradycardia. In these cases, he or she may be transferred to the newborn nursery/birthing center, to one of the pediatric floors at the Golisano Children’s Hospital or even to another hospital.
Although we would like to have each of our babies discharged home, this is not always possible. The NICU at the Golisano Children’s Hospital is the only Neonatal Intensive Care unit for a 14-county region. Transfer to a special care unit at a community hospital or to one of the pediatric floors allows a family the opportunity to transition to home.
Many families are nervous about the transfer of their baby to a regional hospital This is a common feeling related to meeting a new medical team, becoming familiar with a new hospital, and leaving behind a familiar nursery with familiar faces. Transferring your baby to a hospital closer to your home can be a positive experience. Your own pediatrician will become familiar with you and your baby at this time. The atmosphere at most of the regional nurseries is less hectic than that of the NICU. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know, cuddle, and enjoy your baby prior to his or her discharge to home.
As of November 24th, 2009 all children in New York State must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle, until they reach their 8th birthday. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that infants remain rear facing until their 2nd birthday, or until they reach the height and weight limits of their car seat.
We will ask you to bring in your car seat, before your baby is discharged from the hospital. Infants born earlier than 37 weeks gestation will need a car seat test. Babies with other medical conditions or those who may not tolerate sitting in a semi-reclined position may also need this test. The car seat test will usually be done within one week of your baby being discharged home. During the test, the nurse will monitor your baby’s heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels for a minimum of 90 minutes.
We recommend practicing putting the car seat in and out of your car, as well as buckling, tightening and loosening the straps before that special trip home with your baby. It is also recommended that you have your car seat installed at a child passenger safety fitting station. Ask your bedside nurse for information regarding locations for these installation sites.
Visiting and Calling the NICU
Calling the NICU
- You can call the NICU 24 hours a day.
- Wegmans GCH Tower: Phone (585) 275-7150
- Strong (3-3400): Phone (585) 275-2267
- The nursing shift change is from 6:45–7:45 a.m. and 6:45–7:45 p.m. If there is any serious change in your baby’s condition, we will call you as soon as possible.
- We ask that parents make all phone calls concerning their baby and then relay the information to family members. Keep in mind that we do not give information to family members or friends. If you are calling long distance, your baby's nurse can arrange to have daily calls made to you.
We encourage you to visit your baby frequently. There are several services to help you lower the cost of parking. Read more parking information.
If the parking cost is a financial hardship, check with the NICU social worker for transportation assistance.
Getting More Information
Our staff is available to answer your questions and we want you to understand everything we are doing for your baby. It may be helpful to choose two or three people with whom you are most comfortable talking to get most of your information.
We know sometimes we tell you so much that it's hard to remember everything. So, during your baby’s stay in the nursery, we'll give you information sheets. You can read the sheets at your convenience. You can use them to help your memory or help explain your baby’s condition to family and friends.
We also have many books, articles, and videotapes that may be of interest to you. A TV and VCR are available on the unit to view the videotapes. Ask your baby’s nurse for more information.