How to protect your baby

You're not just the parent to your child — you're also chief safety officer! Parents and families play an essential safety role in the NICU. Here's what you can do to promote safety and protect your baby.

Clean your hands and ask those around you to do the same

Use soap and water after using the bathroom or any time you have visible soil (such as milk, stool or mucous) on your hands. You can use alcohol hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly soiled. Use sanitizer before and after touching your baby. Become aware of what your hands are doing and what they're touching. Remember that electronic items like phones or laptops can be a pathway for germs; keep them clean!

Take off hand and arm jewelry and artificial nails

Germs can hide under rings, watches, bracelets and artificial nails. That is why we ask you to take off hand and arm jewelry and to remove artificial nails. If you have any questions about safety and hand hygiene, ask a staff nurse.

Stay home if you're sick

We want you to be with your baby, but if you're sick it's better to stay home. For one, you don't want to pass germs to your baby or to others in the NICU. For another, you need to be well to take care of your baby. If you are wondering if you should come in or stay home, err on the side of caution and call the NICU to talk to a nurse for advice. Ask your family and friends to do the same. Even if they come to the visiting areas of the hospital, if they're ill they're spreading germs.

Be careful about what you bring to your baby's room

No food or drinks other than water can be in your baby's room since they can be a source of infection. Make sure to keep all personal belongings behind the curtained area.

Let us support you

Sometimes it's hard to get family and friends to understand how important safety rules are. If you're running into resistance, let us help. A staff nurse, doctor or the parent coordinator can help educate your nearest and dearest about our policies, leaving you to focus on your baby or babies.

Ask about medication and medical apparatus

Feel free to ask questions about any medication we give your baby or any medical apparatus (like ventilators) that we use, so that you have a clear understanding of what is being used, why it is being used and how it functions. Some parents take notes or add medication and equipment info into their daily journal.

And you can support us. Talk to us about safety; share your thoughts, concerns and questions

We need to hear from you when we're doing something right and when we can be doing something better.

There are never any repercussions for speaking up; rather, when parents help educate us they make the whole NICU better for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns you can speak to a staff nurse, the charge nurse, the patient care manager or the parent coordinator, or leave a note in the feedback box in the family lounge. We really want to hear what you have to say.