University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Going home - FAQs

Below you will find some of the more frequently asked questions about bringing your baby home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

When will I be able to take my baby home?

We aim to get your baby home with you as soon possible when medical care within the unit is no longer needed. Staff will talk with you about planning for home early in your baby's stay - some babies go home with support i.e. nasogastric feeding tubes or home oxygen.

What weight does my baby have to be?

There is no specific weight for going home. If your baby is feeding orally on demand, they are gaining weight steadily and they can maintain their temperature in a cot, then he/she will be ready to go home.

What will I need to take my baby home?

We will give you lots of warning that your baby is nearly ready for home. You will be taught to care for your baby at home; like bathing, feeding, making up feeds and giving medication.

You may be invited to 'room in' with your baby, to care for him/her for 24-48 hrs, with staff support if needed.

I have twins, can one go home before the other?

Yes. If one is much further ahead than the other, it is likely that that twin will go home before his/her sibling. The other twin may return with you to visit.

What support will I have at home?

Your health visitor will be your main support once you are home. They will have been regularly updated on your baby's progress during your baby's stay in NICU.

Hopefully, you will have met or made contact with your health visitor before going home. They will visit you at home within 48 hours of your discharge. Your baby will then be followed up regularly with clinic appointments.

Some babies with specific needs will have the support of the neonatal outreach service, known as the neonatal home team.

What follow up will my baby have?

Follow up to see your baby after discharge will be arranged if this is required.

If your baby was born before 32 weeks and weighed 1500g or less, they will be followed up as part of the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow programme. You will be given information about this programme prior to discharge. These babies usually have follow up appointments until they are at least two or three years old. Some will be seen right up to school age. Babies who have had specific medical problems will also have follow up appointments.

How long will my baby need vitamins?

You will be sent home with two weeks supply of your baby's medication. After that you will need to have a repeat prescription from your doctor (GP).

Your baby should stay on vitamins until he/she is fully weaned. This will be generally be up to one year. After this a healthy start multivitamin preparation can be given to your baby.

Do I have to give the vitamins at the same time every day?

No. Some babies tolerate them better if they are given at separate feeds. Please find a routine that suits you.

If my baby becomes unwell, will he/she come back to NICU?

If your baby needs to be re-admitted to hospital, he/she will go to a paediatric ward at Southampton General Hospital.

How do I know if my baby is warm enough?

Generally your house temperature should be between 18 and 20 degrees celsius. You do not need to have your house at the same temperature as the neonatal intensive care unit (25C).

Dress your baby in layers, which can be added to or taken away. Never use your baby's hands or feet as a guide to warmth, as they are generally cooler than their body. Your baby will adjust to their new environment.

Development

What is "corrected age"?

The corrected age is the age a baby would have been if they had been delivered at full term, or the age calculated from your estimated date of delivery.

What is the corrected age used for?

The corrected age is used when monitoring premature babies' physical and speech development, such as sitting, walking and talking.

What is the actual age used for?

The actual age of your baby is used for immunisations and feeding/weaning.

When do you stop correcting the age?

Usually when your child is two years old.

When will my child walk?

There is no set answer for this question as all children develop at different rates. Try not to compare one child with another. The most important thing is for children to have playtime in all different positions to encourage their development.

If you have any concerns over your child's development you can discuss them with your consultant or bring your child to the Wednesday morning coffee morning for an assessment with the physiotherapist.

Can I put my baby on their tummy?

Yes. It is important that your baby has time to play on their tummy to encourage normal development patterns and head control. However this should only be done when your baby is awake and you are in the room with them.

Your baby must be placed on their back to sleep.