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In the NICU - Neonatal Care

Caring for your baby

Guidelines for caring for your baby

You are encouraged to care for your baby as much as you can, while in the unit. Please follow the advice from your baby’s neonatal unit about visiting. Please note that the visiting policy may vary according to local guidelines, restrictions due to isolation or pandemic situations and public health advice. For visiting guidelines at The NMH, please visit here.

Guidelines for caring for your baby in the neonatal unit

  • Please remain at your baby’s bed space.
  • Respect the privacy of other babies. Staff cannot give you information about other babies.
  • You may bring in a few personal items for your baby, e.g. a family photo. You may also bring in your own sheets and blankets and baby clothes, which will be used whenever possible. For hygiene reasons you will need to wash all clothing and bedding before we can use them.
  • Check with staff before bringing in other items.

Babies’ immune systems aren’t as developed as adults’ – so extra care is needed as the unit does its best to protect babies from infection. It is important to protect your baby from infection by following the infection control measures in the neonatal unit at all times.

Protect your baby from infection at all times by observing the important infection control measures outlined

Mum with baby in the neonatal unit

Visiting baby

Making sure you don't bring infection into the Neonatal Unit

Hand-hygiene is essential every time you come into the neonatal unit. Hand hygiene is one of the best ways to keep your baby safe from infection. Wash your hands before you come into the neonatal unit. Before you touch your baby, please use the alcohol gel that is close to your baby’s bed.

If you are taking care of your twins or triplets, please clean your hands when you move from one baby to the other.​

It is important to clean your hands properly. Information on the correct way to clean your hands is displayed on educational posters at the sinks and alcohol gel dispensers. Roll up your sleeves, remove jewellery including watches, rings and bracelets, wash your hands in warm soapy water, rinse your hands; dry your hands with a paper towel.

Alcohol gel can be used instead of hand-washing if your hands are visibly clean.​

For your baby’s safety, no one who has been exposed to a contagious disease should visit.​

If you have a cold, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, or are unwell, please check with your baby’s doctor or nurse before visiting.​

Take off your coat before you go into the neonatal unit. Use the lockers and coat racks for your coats and bags. Make sure your clothes are clean.​

If you have a cold sore, do not let it touch your baby or do not kiss your baby until it has fully healed. If your hands come in contact with a cold sore, perform hand hygiene before touching your baby. Cover the lesion when it is not yet dry with a cold sore patch available from pharmacies, then perform hand hygiene. Some parents find that wearing a surgical mask helps them to avoid kissing their baby when they have a cold sore.​

Ensure any items you bring in for your baby are clean and washed frequently. Do not bring any extra items, which are not essential for baby’s care.​

Make sure that your vaccinations are up to date – both mums and dads! Sometimes when babies are born preterm, their mother will not have had their vaccinations that they are supposed to have in pregnancy, and it’s important to talk with your GP about getting these vaccinations even after your baby is born.

Hand-sanitising using alcohol gel


Times when you may not be able to visit your baby

Parents are welcome to care for their baby as much as possible but there are times when you may not be able to see your baby. These times include:

  • During the daily ward round while other babies are being discussed. This is necessary to protect the privacy and confidentiality of other babies.
  • When there is an emergency or complicated procedure being performed – on your baby or another baby nearby.
  • During staff shift changes, when nurses are giving reports about the babies to incoming staff. Again this is to protect the privacy and confidentiality of other babies.

There is still a lot you can do to connect with your baby when you cannot see them.

Suggestions to connect with your baby when you cannot come into the unit:

Siblings, other family members and friends

It is generally not possible for your other children and family members or friends to visit the neonatal unit. The reason for this is the risk of infection, both for your baby and the other babies in the neonatal unit. While this may be difficult, they can still be involved and kept up to date with photos and videos.

It is particularly important for your baby’s brothers and sisters that they feel included in the whole experience. Further information on supporting baby’s brothers and sisters is available here.

Emergency and end-of-life situations

In emergency situations, where a baby is very sick and likely to die, the team looking after your baby understand that there may be other people who can’t usually visit who you would like to meet your baby. In these situations, we can work with you to make sure that the people who you need to meet your baby can do so.