Preparing for Home

Each infant cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is unique. No two follow the same medical course of treatment or the same timeline. Each baby develops at their own pace and in their own way.

We're here to support both you and your baby in your journey toward home. We want to help you get home with a healthy, happy baby.


In general, your baby is ready to go home when:

  • Breathing pattern has matured

  • Maintaining their body temperature in an open crib

  • Feedings progress to bottle or breast, and there is an established weight gain

Car Seat Study

Any infant born at less than 37 weeks gestation, or who is discharged home on oxygen or a monitor, will have a car seat study done.

Your baby will be placed in a car seat, usually following a feeding. Breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels will be monitored. Depending on the results of this test, your baby’s doctor may recommend a special type of car seat, car bed or further observation in the NICU.

Hearing Test

Detecting hearing problems early can connect your baby with special follow-up services. The newborn hearing screening takes place before your baby leaves the hospital. Soft sounds are played through special ear phones, and your baby’s response to sound is measured.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening

All infants admitted to the NICU are screened for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) before they are discharged home.

This simple, quick test uses oxygen saturation sensors to detect the presence of CCHD, even if your baby is not showing symptoms. Pulse oximetry (oxygen saturation) sensors are applied to your baby’s right hand and either foot, and the oxygen saturation reading is determined.

Depending on the results of the test, your baby’s doctor may recommend discharge to home, further observation in the NICU and/or provide a specialized referral.