If your newborn is being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you'll want to learn as much as you can about your child's health. The more you learn, the better prepared you'll be to help and care for your baby.

What Should I Ask the Doctors and Nurses?

Below are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Why is my baby here?
  • How long will my baby be here?
  • What is my baby's treatment and daily care?
  • What medicines will my baby take?
  • Do the medicines have side effects?
  • What types of tests will be done?
  • Will I be able to breastfeed or bottle-feed my baby. If so, when and how?
  • How can I help my baby?
  • Will I be able to hold or touch my baby?
  • Can I stay with my baby? Can I sleep there?

Nurses are responsible for the daily care of your baby, such as feeding, changing, bathing, and giving medicines. You can ask your baby's nurse questions on how to care for your baby.

What Should I Ask the Social Worker?

The hospital's social worker is there to support your family. Some questions you might want to ask:

  • What services does the hospital offer to families?
  • Is nearby short-term housing offered (such as through a Ronald McDonald House)?
  • How do we know what is covered by our health plan?
  • How do we apply for benefits? How do we get financial help?
  • Is there a support group for parents in the NICU?
  • Is there a counselor who can help us with tough decisions?
  • What advice do you give for coping when your baby is in the NICU?
  • How should we prepare for when our baby goes home?

What Should I Ask About Taking My Baby Home?

When the day comes to bring your little one home, you may be feeling a mix of relief, joy, and worry. Prepare ahead of time for your baby's homecoming. These questions can help:

  • When will my baby be ready to leave the NICU?
  • How can I care for my baby at home? Any special instructions?
  • Does my baby need special equipment or monitoring? If so, how do I use it?
  • Will a visiting nurse come to our home to help and check on us?
  • Should I learn CPR?
  • Can we have visitors? Are there any special precautions?
  • When should we see the pediatrician?
  • What if I have questions about my baby when I'm home?
  • How will I know if my baby needs to see a doctor (signs of fever, etc.)?

By learning all you can before your baby leaves the hospital, you'll feel better prepared for the days ahead.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.