When you have a baby, your newborn’s health is the most important thing to you as a parent. However, premature babes in the NICU have more intense needs than the typical child. Prepare yourself in advance by learning the top things to know when bringing your NICU baby home.
Though you’ve had a challenging medical experience with your baby, you must remember that they are still a little child and have the same basic needs as every other newborn. Before you dive into the preemie-specific items, make sure you set up the essentials.
In anticipation of bringing their baby home, many about-to-be parents make a nursery for their child. The nursery is a crucial step in the baby homecoming process. If you have a spare room or an unused section of your bedroom, turn that space into a nursery. Stock it full of the essentials and build the required furniture beforehand. When you set this place aside for your child, you can easily navigate needs as they arise. Need a diaper change? A new bottle? A fresh blanket? Head to the nursery. Organize this space before you bring your child home so you can access what you need in a pinch.
Let’s face it—all babies need diapers to hold in their excretions and protect them from the outside world. Even though your premature child may eat less than others, they are still quite capable of making a mess in their diaper. Be sure to set up a changing station in your nursery that’s stocked with preemie-size diapers and sensitive baby wipes. The changing station will be your best friend throughout the day, so keep the area clean and well-stocked.
Depending on the situation with your preemie, you may opt for bottle-feeding. Even if you don’t prefer this method, you can store extra milk in bottles for future use. Make sure you have a few full bottles when your baby needs milk. If you plan on using bottles for milk preservation, keep air-tight caps around as well. Bottles are your best friend regardless of your feeding preferences. Milk or formula, you will need plenty to satisfy your baby as they grow.
Babies grow exponentially fast week by week and month by month. This trajectory is even truer for premature children since they start smaller and grow to catch up. Begin with preemie-size clothing but ready yourself with the newborn sizes since the day will come sooner than later. If you had a baby shower in the months preceding your delivery, you have some clothes on hand. However, these items are most likely for full-grown newborns, not preemies. You’ll need to stock up on preemie-sized clothing for their first few weeks and months of life with you at home.
Baby blankets are a fantastic tool. You can swaddle your child with them; you can give them a blanket to play with; you can use blankets as a barrier between them and surfaces. No matter how you use them, baby blankets are the perfect tool for any parent bringing a child home. Your NICU child may need a smaller blanket, so look for appropriately sized items.
Premature babies need special preparations for a safe and simple homecoming. These are specific items you may need to address before bringing your baby home from the NICU. The following are suggestions only and should not supersede or replace the guidance of a trained physician.
As their name implies, premature babies don’t have fully developed bodies. This underdevelopment means certain organs and bodily functions are not as strong as they should be. So, you will need specialized medical equipment to help them through the days and nights until infanthood. One thing many preemies need is an apnea monitor. Their lungs have difficulty bringing in enough air when they breathe, so NICU babies often develop sleep apnea for a time. They will suddenly cease breathing for a quick moment, then resume. This irregular breathing affects adults as well, but it’s vital to monitor in your preemie. Oxygen equipment also accompanies these tools and aids in the breathing process.
As a parent to a preemie child, you understand that health issues can arise at any time. Doctors gave you the all-clear, but that doesn’t mean problems can’t occur at home. Take a moment to create a health plan for your baby. Make a list of contact information for your doctors and lactation consultant. You should also find a pediatrician who can handle premature babies and help you through the first years of your child’s life.
Preparation doesn’t end at looking to others for help. Grow your own skillset and learn infant CPR. Since NICU babies have difficulty breathing, this knowledge could come in handy in an emergency. Learn the specifics of this method so you can help your child if they become unresponsive. Also, ask your doctors about special training for preemie parents. It would be best if you learned any additional tactics and medical advice you can find. If you need help at home, you should find in-home assistance. At Fedelta Home Care, we offer the best skilled nursing care in Seattle.
Depending on your situation, you will likely have dozens of family and friends who want to meet your baby. Though this shower of love and attention is meaningful, you must manage expectations beforehand. Premature babies have specific medical needs that may put them at risk if you bring everyone into your home all the time. You should encourage people to come, but limit visits and don’t allow any sick people near your baby. Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly before touching or holding your child. Consult with your doctor about the appropriate amount of visitation as they age.
Keep these top things to know when bringing your NICU baby home in mind when the day finally comes. Though the doctors allow you to bring your child home, this doesn’t mean your child’s needs disappear. If you need help tending to your high-need baby, reach out to our team at Fedelta Home Care to find a solution that works for you.