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Preparing for home

When will my baby be able to come back to me on the ward, or come home?

Neonatal baby in open cot

As soon as it is safe to do so.

If your baby has been born prematurely, the timing of when they can go home will depend on how well they are progressing and how complicated the course has been.


To go home safely, babies need to be suck-feeding at least half of all their feeds, be breathing well and have safe oxygen levels. The team looking after you will talk with you about whether your baby will have developmental follow-up. 

For all babies the clinical team will aim to begin preparing parents for discharge, very soon after admission.

Preparing for discharge home

Caring for your baby at home after the neonatal unit

It is recognised that leaving the neonatal unit with your baby can be exciting and emotional yet daunting so the team’s aim is to begin preparing you for discharge back to the ward, or home, as soon as your baby is admitted. For some families this may mean transfer to another hospital before discharge home.


It is important for you to be actively involved in as many decisions as you can about your baby and to take every opportunity during your baby’s stay to become confident and safe in caring for them.



Staff on the unit will encourage you in getting to know your baby and teach and support you to provide all their care. This process of preparing for discharge is gradual and depends on your and your baby’s needs; it can take hours or days to complete and involve many different people and organisations.

Initially, it may be that providing breast milk and being with your baby, talking to him or holding his hand is what your baby's nurse recommends for you to do. As your baby improves the staff will help you to recognise, understand and respond appropriately to your baby.


As you become more confident, you will be increasingly involved in planning and giving their care.

Rooming in

Transitional Care

'Rooming in' Neonatal Unit Transitional Care

The neonatal team will recommend that you think about 'rooming in'. This is when you spend a night or two in the neonatal unit with your baby prior to going home.


This allows you to undertake all of baby's care as if being at home, with the full support of the nursing team, just along the corridor. Families say that having this time can help to build confidence. 

Feeling prepared before you take baby home

There are some things that every family will need to know for taking their baby home.


Below, there is a list of questions to help you be best prepared in caring for your baby at home. If you aren’t able to answer “yes”, chat the question through with the nurse looking after you, or one of the community outreach team.

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