Going Home

Taking your baby home can be a happy time, but if your baby has been in the Special Care Nursery (SCN), it may also be a bit scary. Parents often want to know how they can tell if their baby is ready to leave the hospital. Your baby is becoming ready to go home if he or she is:

  • Having no episodes of apnea (forgetting to breathe)
  • Able to stay warm all the time without an incubator or warmer
  • Breast-feeding well or taking all feedings from a bottle
  • Gaining weight consistently
  • Medically stable

As your baby gets closer to being discharged from the hospital, it is important to begin preparing for this transition. Some of the ways you can get ready are:

  • Become more involved with your baby's routine care by learning how to feed, change diapers and give baths.
  • If your baby is going home on medications, learn what they are, what they do and how to give them. Also, be sure to fill any prescriptions and have the medicine on hand before the baby leaves the hospital.
  • Get the items you will need to care for your baby at home, including a crib, a car seat, diapers, clothing and blankets, as well as feeding equipment and supplies such as bottles, a breast pump and formula, if applicable.
  • Choose a pediatrician to care for your baby after discharge from the hospital. Let your baby's nurse know who you have chosen so information about your baby can be shared with the pediatrician's office.
  • CPR instruction is required for all parents of babies going home on oxygen or with a monitor. It is also required for parents of babies born at 34 weeks or less. Ask your baby's nurse about CPR training.
  • If you smoke, stop if at all possible, or at least be prepared to only smoke outside. Babies who are around cigarette smoke are more likely to get respiratory infections during their first year and have an increased risk of other health problems.

Once you and your baby are home, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Limit visitors during your first days at home. Ask friends and family members with colds to visit later when they are feeling better. When you and your baby do have visitors, ask them to wash their hands before handling your baby.
  • Some babies have trouble getting used to sleeping in their new home. They may have gotten used to sleeping with a light on and some sounds in the background. You may find that your baby sleeps better with a light on and some soft music playing in the background.
  • BACK TO SLEEP - Babies do need to spend time on their stomachs to develop head and trunk control, but when you put your baby to sleep, remember that you should place him or her on their back (BACK TO SLEEP). In addition, the crib mattress should be firm and flat, and you should not use soft bedding or pillows in the crib.
  • Take your baby to all of the recommended follow-up appointments. All babies will need to be seen on a regular basis by a pediatrician or primary care doctor. In addition, some babies need to be followed by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to monitor their vision; a developmental team to monitor their growth and development; or a pediatric pulmonologist (lung doctor) if they are on a monitor or oxygen therapy.

Discharge Checklist you and your nurse will review as discharge is approaching:

  • Hearing screening (all infants)
  • Car seat test (infants born at less than 37 weeks or less than 2000 grams at birth)
  • State metabolic screening on day 7 and day 28 after birth, or prior to discharge
  • Hepatitis B vaccine (after consent) and any other required vaccines
  • CPR training for parents of babies born at 34 weeks or less
  • Circumcision, if applicable (after consent)
  • Pediatrician name and telephone number provided and an appointment made
  • Rooming in (if needed)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunization for at-risk infants
  • Developmental follow-up clinic appointment for infants less than 1250 grams, or as needed
  • Other follow-up appointments as needed