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NICU Family Information

We know that having a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be stressful and difficult. With the help of our NICU Parent Advisory Council, we've gathered resources to help familiarize parents and family members with the unit, making your stay as comfortable as possible.

NICU Family Resources

Children's Mercy offers a number of support resources for families, which you may find helpful during your family's stay in the NICU.

Hand hygiene

Correct hand washing is the best way to keep your baby from getting sick. Hand washing is an easy way to help keep your little one safe. Please read the following hand washing steps. 

  • The nursery staff will give you a hand washing lesson. After this, please feel free to scrub or do a good hand wash at any ICN sink. Please ask for additional help with the hand washing routine if needed. 

  • Who needs to wash hands? Parents, visitors, family members, friends, staff, or anyone else visiting the bedside needs to wash their hands before each visit. 

When to wash your hands? 

  • Right before and after touching your baby 
  • When you leave the ICN and return 
  • After you touch your face, hair or personal items, including your cell phone and camera
  • If you have twins, or more, it is very important to wash your hands or use the hand gel when you go from touching one baby to another.

How to wash your hands 

  • Push any long sleeves above the elbows. 
  • Jewelry should be minimal, bracelets and watches should be taken off to wash hands.
  • Your hospital ID bracelet may stay on during handwashing. 
  • Wash with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds for the first handwashing each day you arrive in the ICN. 
  • We’ve placed hand gel at each baby’s bed side and at sinks.  You are welcome to use hand gel instead of soap and water when your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • The ICN nurses and doctors have a 100% hand wash or gel goal, but it’s ok to remind them to wash/gel their hands before touching your baby. 

You should always wash your hands when you enter the NICU. 

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is an effective way to remove germs like bacteria from your hands when they are NOT visibly dirty. The important thing to remember about using hand sanitizer is to put enough on your hands so that it takes 30 seconds of rubbing your hands together before they are dry.

Other times to clean your hands

  • Upon entering your baby’s room

  • After you sneeze, cough or blow your nose

  • Before and after you change your baby’s diaper

  • After you touch any area of your body that may have a lot of germs, including your nose, mouth, face or hair

  • After you go to the bathroom

  • After you touch any electronic devices, including your phone, camera, computer or tablet

  • After you touch your purse, jacket or shoes

  • If you have more than one baby in the NICU, wash your hands after you touch one baby, before you touch the other

All babies, including those who spend time in the NICU, need vaccinations to help protect them from serious diseases. Some babies begin getting these shots while they’re in the NICU. Check with your baby’s provider about when they needs their vaccinations.  

If you have other children, they need their vaccinations, too. This helps keep them from passing infections to the baby. During flu season, everyone in the family, including parents, should get a flu shot. And, any adult who may have contact with your baby needs a Tdap vaccination to help prevent pertussis (also called whooping cough).

Even if you don’t get sick, it's still possible to transmit illness or diseases to your child. Remember that some babies are not able to be vaccinated, so it is up to you to help protect them

Well-baby checks are an important way to prevent illness and also to make sure your baby is doing well after you leave the NICU. Your first appointment will be within 2-3 days after you leave the NICU, and you will have regularly scheduled appointments after that. Your baby’s provider will recommend how often you have well-baby checks.
 
Your care manager will schedule your follow up appointments before you are discharged from the NICU. A list of all of your follow up appointments will be on your discharge paperwork. 

Who is an "official visitor" and who is a "visitor?"

You may choose "official visitors." Official visitors may visit your baby without you being there; however, they may not bring other visitors with them to the bedside. All other visitors must visit your baby with you. 

Visiting hours (for all visitors other than parents)

9 a.m. – 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Nursing shift change is from 7-8 (both morning and evening), and only parents and primary care givers are allowed during this time.

Remember that you have the right to restrict who visits your baby. Siblings are welcome to visit during visiting hours. All children must be accompanied at all times. 

Other things to remember

  • Any children at the bedside that become noisy or disruptive will be asked to leave the ICN.
  • Other than the baby’s siblings and the baby’s aunts or uncles, no children under the age of 14 may visit the ICN.
  • All children visiting must be healthy. ICN staff will check for signs of illness (fever, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting).
  • If your baby’s brothers or sisters need a break from their visit, they can go to the playroom on 3-Henson, where they can read or play (must be supervised in the playroom at all times)
  • Family and friends are welcome, germs are not. Infections and contagious illnesses can be a serious risk for newborns and very unsafe for sick and premature babies. 

Visitor restrictions take effect during cold and flu season. Respiratory viruses are easily spread, so the hospital takes preventive measures to provide a safe environment for patients, visitors and staff members. Visitors, including siblings, 14-and-under will not be permitted to visit the ICN.  Signs will be posted during the effective dates. 

When your baby gets to go home 

  • Keep up your hand washing habits:

  • Before touching your baby

  • After changing your baby’s diaper

  • After using the bathroom

  • After wiping another child’s nose 

  • After petting or feeding your pets

Keep in mind to clean what other kids have touched.

Keeping your baby healthy

  • Limit the number of people who come to your home.

  • Ask visitors to wash their hands before touching your baby.

  • Don’t ever let visitors smoke in your home or near your baby. Do not let people who have been smoking hold your baby. 

  • Don’t let adults or children who are sick, have a fever or who may have been exposed to an illness near your baby.

Symptoms to watch for

  • Runny nose

  • Cough

  • Fever

People with these symptoms should stay home until they feel better.

Other things to consider

  • Ask adults who may have contact with your baby to get a Tdap vaccination.

  • Try not to take your baby to crowded places, like the shopping mall and grocery stores.

  • If you have to take your baby out in public, consider having sani-wipes readily available.

  • It’s OK to tell strangers not to touch your baby.

  • Have a "stop" sign on your car seat or stroller to deter strangers from touching.

Communicate with your care provider on when they feel is the best time to expose your child to bigger crowds.