Baby’s bed in the NICU

isolette2When a baby is born early and 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 can’t happen in the cute nursery waiting at home.

Since premature babies cannot regulate their body temperature well, they often are placed in a radiant warmer for a couple of days. This special open bed may not look like it will do much, but a special sensor taped to the baby’s skin keeps track of his 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 just 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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7 Responses to “Baby’s bed in the NICU”

  1. Maria Says:

    Our little Bella was in the NICU for 2 months and 12 days… We were allowed to decorate her isolette after 1 week, however it was limited to a blanket over the top and her dolly taped to the outside. It was just enough for us to give her a little bit of home.

  2. Enkidu Says:

    My daughter was born at 27 weeks. We started personalizing her incubator within the first week: a photo of mommy, daddy, and the family dogs was taped to the outside, facing in. We bought receiving blankets from home that were used to make up the inside of her isolette. The NICU also had a corkboard behind her incubator, which the staff hung cute notes and signs on.

  3. Lindsay Says:

    Maria and Endiku, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I’m sure it meant a lot to you to bring a little bit of home to your baby’s bed.

  4. Chrissy Says:

    My daughter was born at 28 weeks and spent 61 days in the NICU. We were allowed to start personalizing that week. We brought in some blankets, a picture of mommy and daddy that was taped to the inside of her isolette and a dolly that was placed down at her feet.

  5. Gregg Says:

    I had two daughters born premature, one at 27 weeks and one at 29 weeks. Combined, we spent almost 9 months in the NICU, and once my oldest daughter was stable enough, we put two little beenie babies, a soft picture book, and a tape player of us reading stories to her when we couldn’t be there. I believe that it was not only important to both of my daughters during their time in the NICU, but I believe that it helped us cope with the lack of control we felt while sitting bedside for so many hours.

  6. Jackie Says:

    my son was born at 28wks gestation at ohio state university in columbus, ohio. he was so fragile and critical the first few weeks due to an infection that he and i both had at the time of his birth. it was approximately 3wks before we were allowed to decorate his “house” (as we explained it to his older brother). the very first decorations he had were pictures colored especially for him by his brother. :) the nurses all loved them! just to be safe, we taped them picture-side down on the outside of the isolette so that they could be seen from the inside without introducing any outside germs or contaminants. i’m happy to say, he is now 20wks old, home, and weighs 12lbs!

  7. Lindsay Says:

    Chrissy, I’m sure it helped to be able to bring a touch of home to her isolette as soon as possible. Making some personal space in such a sterile and serious environment can help to keep you calm.

    Gregg – 9 months of being in the NICU makes you a pro – but, I’m sorry you had to be there. You hit the nail on the head with your comment about this helping you cope with the lack of control.

    Jackie, so glad to hear your son is home, doing well and getting beefy!

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