Was your baby in a radiant warmer or isolette?

isoletteWhen a baby born early is in the NICU, it’s usually because he needs to be closely monitored in a safe, protected environment so he can continue to develop like he would if he were still inside Mom. This high level of care can’t happen in the cute nursery you have set up at home. That has to wait until later.

Since premature babies cannot regulate their body temperature well, they often are placed in a radiant warmer for a couple of days. This odd-looking open bed may not look like it will do much, but a special sensor taped to the baby’s skin keeps track of his body temperature and adjusts the heat around him as needed. The openness of the bed allows easy access for medical attention during constant monitoring.

Once stabilized, babies usually are transferred to an isolette. This plexiglass box is an incubator that protects the baby from temperature fluctuations in the room. It has portholes on the sides for medical staff to reach through in order to provide different treatments, diaper changes, etc. One wall of the isolette can be unhinged to provide complete access to the baby. As in the radiant warmer, the temperature within the isolette is regulated in accordance with the baby’s temperature needs. Some isolettes also provide moist, humidified air to prevent the baby’s environment from becoming too dry.

Many parents of a baby in the NICU want to decorate their baby’s isolette, make it personal. In time, that will be a great idea, but in the beginning babies often can’t handle any extra stimulation. Very tiny babies may not even be able to handle being touched for the first week or so. It’s hard for parents to see their baby in such a sterile environment. Items such as a special isolette cover, a stuffed animal or family photo can provide a touch of home. By talking with the NICU staff caring for their baby, parents will learn when and how much of a personal touch will be best for their little one.

If you had a baby in the NICU, how long was it before you were able to personalize your baby’s bed?

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5 Responses to “Was your baby in a radiant warmer or isolette?”

  1. Sophie Says:

    We didn’t have anything ready to personalise as he was an early surprise; our first thought wasn’t to nip to the shops! But I did find a cuddly toy that I had slept with which belonged to my other son, I knew that he wouldn’t be able to see or touch it but, propped up inside in the corner nearby, I knew that he could smell me on it. Sitting close speaking to him, or my husband, even singing to him, I knew he could hear my voice too. These familiar things which he will have been able to recognise and feel familiarity with were more important than pretty surroundings, which I thought were more for my benefit than his. We were fortunate in that we had Kangeroo care from day 2.

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Sophie – It’s wonderful that you were able to have kangaroo care right from day two. That probably did more for him (and you!) than anything else. You make a good point about his being able to smell you and hear your voice being familiar and beneficial to him.
    Often the act of “prettying up” the surroundings is more for Mom & Dad’s benefit and gives them a tiny sense of control. As you know, it’s very hard to spend weeks or months visiting your little one in the NICU.

  3. Becky Says:

    My son was born at 25 weeks, also a complete surprise, and until he was in an open air crib (at about 33 weeks gestation) we were not really allowed to personalize the isolette. We were allowed to do Kangaroo care for about an hour a day, starting when he was two days old, and the hospital gave us a Snoedel which we could sleep with and then place in the Isolette with him. That way he learned our smells and could be comforted by the Snoedel. Once he was in a crib we could add some toys and blankets. We also hung pictures in his area of the NICU and the nurses took pictures of him that we could hang up.

  4. Valerie Says:

    My son was a month early. He tried to come two months early but they were able to stop him. He was only in the nicu for four days before he got to go home. But we had to keep a really close eye on him for the first two weeks at home and he had nurse come to check him.

  5. Mike loschinskey Says:

    Our 26 weeker Tori was born in late September 2009 and spent 105 days in the NICU. We decorated her isolette for all the holidays. Halloween, thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. We even had battery operated lights. We made isolette covers as we sat there waiting for her to come home. Will never forget those days and the love and support of nurses and doctors @ AGH Pittsburgh Pa

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