Babies with special health concerns receive exceptional care at our newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
St. Louis Children’s Hospital NICU: Why Choose Us?
Our newborn care consistently rates among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Your family benefits from:
- Advanced medical care: As a Level IV NICU, we offer the highest level of medical care for the smallest and most vulnerable patients.
- Depth of expertise: As part of the Women & Infants Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital has a unique partnership with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Physicians. You have access to leading medical experts from all three institutions in a single, convenient location.
- Care that focuses on your family: We practice family-centered care, always working in partnership with you to make decisions about your baby’s well-being. Our care services include:
- Family Support Services: Helps families cope with the stress of caring for a baby with health problems
- Child Life Services: Helps older siblings adjust to the addition of a new family member and provides babysitting services so parents can spend time with their newborn
- Developmentally focused care: Experts in our department of therapy services provide physical, occupational and speech therapy for children with developmental delays.
- Dedicated nurses: Your team of nurses gets to know your baby intimately, which makes it easier to notice slight health changes. You get to know these nurses as family and work together to care for your baby.
- Virtual visits: If you need to be apart from your baby, you can call your designated NICU nurse at a set time and view real-time videos of your baby. During this virtual visit, your nurse provides updates about your baby’s care.
- Leaders in research: Our doctors participate in clinical trials and research projects. We focus on developing new therapies and advancing existing treatments to improve the long-term health of medically fragile infants.
Advanced NICU Services
When needed, babies in our NICU receive advanced medical care, including:
- Heart care: Cardiac specialists treat infants with congenital heart disease. Our heart care services include:
- Inpatient Heart Center: for newborns with heart problems
- Heart Center: For the diagnosis and treatment of children with heart problems, including surgeries and heart transplants
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): An advanced heart-lung support system for infants with severely weakened hearts and/or lungs
- Neurological care: Specialists in our Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program treat infants with conditions that affect the brain, nerves and spinal cord.
- Lung care: We are the world leader in lung transplants for children with conditions like cystic fibrosis and pulmonary vascular disease. Learn more about our lung transplant program.
- Genomic medicine: Our genetic counselors provide care for babies with genetic or inherited conditions. We base treatment on each infant’s unique genetic makeup.
- Pediatric specialists: These experts treat specific conditions in infants and children, including gastroenterology, urology, and ear, nose and throat problems.
Our NICU Rooms
Our newly expanded unit enables us to care for around 1,500 infants every year. Our NICU features:
- Single-family rooms: We encourage you to stay overnight with your baby as much as possible. Our single-family rooms have a bed, small refrigerator and storage space.
- Convenience: Our NICU is a short hallway walk from the labor and delivery unit at the Women & Infants Center. You are always close to your baby.
- All-inclusive care: To minimize infection risk and provide a soothing, stable environment, your baby stays in the same room as much as possible. In most situations, we bring imaging equipment or other diagnostic tools to your baby.
- Breastfeeding assistance: To boost immunity, growth and development, premature babies weighing less than 3 pounds 5 ounces receive breast milk in our NICU. We offer electric breast pumps, and our lactation consultants help with breastfeeding and pumping. We supplement your baby’s nutritional needs with donated breast milk when needed. Learn more about breastfeeding your baby.
- Advanced technology: A central monitoring system allows us to closely monitor every infant in our NICU and immediately detects problems.
Leaving the NICU
Some babies who have spent time in the NICU continue to need advanced medical care when they go home. For instance, your baby may need a feeding tube, oxygen or a monitoring device.
You may be feeling both happy and nervous about caring for your baby on your own. To help with this transition, your family stays one or two nights in our family participation unit. Here, you care for your baby using the same devices you will use at home. NICU nurses are just a step away if you encounter problems or have questions.
A dedicated discharge coordinator helps identify services that your family may need, coordinates follow-up appointments and works with your insurance company to make the transition from hospital to home as stress-free as possible.
After discharge, specialists at our Newborn Medicine Clinic provide follow-up care for children with ongoing medical problems and developmental delays. Children with heart problems who are at risk for developmental problems receive advanced care at our Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic.