Children's Hospital Colorado

What to Expect When Visiting the NICU

Providing hope, healing and expertise for our smallest and most vulnerable patients.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Neonatology 2021-2 Badge


Welcome to Our NICU

We understand that most families don’t expect their new baby to need care in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But if you need us, we welcome you to make Children’s Hospital Colorado your home as you bond with your newest family member.

Whether you stay in our Level IV (four) NICU on Anschutz Medical Campus or Level III (three) NICU in Colorado Springs, we’re committed to helping you feel comfortable before, during and after visiting our NICU.

Learn more about NICU levels.

How to prepare for a visit to the NICU

Not all families have the chance to prepare for a stay in the NICU. But for patients who have a prenatal diagnosis and can deliver in our Colorado Fetal Care Center or those who know their baby will be transferred to our care, we have tips to help.

We care for some of the smallest and most fragile premature infants, as well as babies with highly complex medical and surgical needs. As such, you should plan to stay with us for more than a few days. Your care team will provide you with more specific details based on your child’s condition.

Here are some general steps you can take to prepare:

  • Try to make arrangements with your work and family for being out of your normal routine.
  • Label everything with your baby’s name.
  • Pack some of your personal belongings such as clothes, bedding, books and electronics to make your stay more comfortable.

Our team can help you find temporary lodging should you have an extended stay with us and live too far to commute. We also provide many other resources for your family to make your stay easier.

We welcome and encourage parents to be with their baby at any time, especially during medical rounds when you can be involved in your baby’s care plan.

If you have any questions before your visit, don’t hesitate to call us at 720-777-6857. Or learn more about preparing for a visit to Children’s Colorado.

Your visit in our NICU

When you first enter our NICU, we’ll show you to your baby’s room. At that time, a member of your baby’s care team will explain the surroundings and equipment and review the care plan.

It can be hard to see your newborn connected to medical equipment, but it’s necessary for their care. Your baby will be connected to a monitor that tracks their heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen saturation. They may also receive medication or food through IVs or feeding tubes. Your care team will explain all equipment involved in your baby’s care. Even though your baby will be connected to necessary equipment, our providers will help you have one-on-one bonding time with your baby.

Many different neonatal providers may be involved in your baby’s care. You will have the most contact with neonatal nurses, who will introduce themselves whenever a new nurse begins caring for your baby. Your baby’s team will meet each morning to discuss your baby’s progress and go over the care plan for the day. You should feel free to ask questions of any of our providers whenever you have them.

You will also have a primary nursing team who will stay with your baby throughout your stay. Research shows that having a primary team of nurses who provide consistent, coordinated and individualized care to your baby and family positively impacts your baby’s health and your experience. With input from the doctors, this team will develop a care plan just for your baby.

We recognize that feeding your baby can be challenging while in the NICU. We have a team of certified lactation specialists to help you nurse your baby or provide them with breastmilk or formula. Our dedicated Milk and Formula Labs help provide the best nutrition for your baby.

As your baby gets better

As your baby gets ready to go home, we suggest writing down all the questions and concerns you may have and discussing them with one of our providers. We will make sure you feel prepared to go home and care for your baby.

Before you leave, we will help you make sure your car seat is installed correctly and provide a list of car seat inspection stations near you.

Our dedicated discharge coordinators will assist you with every aspect of your transition home, and we’ll provide detailed medical information to your primary care doctor to support a safe, smooth transition. If your baby needs ongoing care, such as home nursing or therapy services, we’ll help coordinate that care in your community. We will also help coordinate follow-up care at Children’s Colorado, should your baby need it.

If you have any questions once you are home, our ParentSmart Healthline is available 24/7.