Caring For Your Premature baby at Home

As you transition from the neonatal care unit to caring for your preterm baby at home, you’ll have many exciting opportunities to bond with your baby. No matter how long you and your baby spent in the hospital, going home can be a much-anticipated moment. This article will provide an overview of how to prepare for bringing a preemie home, the support available, and advice from neonatal staff and parents of preemies.

When Can Your Premature Baby Go Home?

It’s natural to anxiously wait for that special day when your premature baby can go home. But when can premature babies go home? And what’s the earliest a preemie can go home? That usually depends on your baby’s individual situation, including how early they were born and any medical conditions they have. So, whether your baby was born at 29, 32, 35 weeks, etc., how long they stay in the hospital and NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) [Link to new article: NICU] depends on the progress they’re making.

Your neonatal care team will assess your baby’s progress. If your baby is medically well enough, they can regulate their own body temperature, and their weight and feeding are on track, the neonatal care team will discuss with you if your preemie is ready to go home or if they need more time in the hospital.

The Your healthcare team will also work closely with you to help prepare you for life at home with your premature baby. The team will involve you and your family in the daily care of your baby as much as possible while in the hospital. This helps enable you to be primary caregivers and partners with the neonatal care team – better preparing you for life at home with your baby.

Your neonatal care team may help you feel confident with the following:

  • Comforting and reassuring your baby

  • Giving your baby a bath

  • Administering medication to your baby and using any special equipment

  • Feeding your baby, including breastfeeding, bottle feeding, expressing milk and sterilising bottles

  • Monitoring their temperature

  • Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Resuscitation technique (infant resuscitation training may be provided).

Remember, the neonatal care staff will help you feel confident and knowledgeable about the above items and can answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Preparing to Bring your Premature Baby Home

Bringing home a preemie from NICU is an exciting time, but it can also overwhelming for many parents as they prepare for this transition. Here’s a list of some things that may help when preparing to leave the hospital:

  • Plan ahead. Whether you’re breastfeeding, expressing or bottle feeding, Neonatal staff or breastfeeding support can help with feeding. It’s also good to ensure you have any equipment you need, such as a breast pump.

  • Purchase equipment. Ensure you have all the necessary home equipment for your baby for nappy changing, bathing, sleeping, etc. Make sure your child’s car seat conforms to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03) or to the new i-size regulation, R129 (Look for the 'E' mark label on the seat). Learn how to use and install all equipment before bringing your preemie home.

  • Learn how to support your baby’s medical needs. Even if your baby is ready to go home, they may still have some medical needs that your neonatal team will guide you through and ensure you’re feeling ready for about. These may include the medication your baby needs and how to give it to them; if they’re still on oxygen and the training you’ll be given; and if they still need a nasogastric tube and how to feed or replace it.

  • Register birth. If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you need to register your baby within 42 days of their birth, and within 21 days for those in Scotland. You can find out more details on registering the birth at

  • Register with GP. Register your baby with a GP to ensure you can get all their medication on prescription, as well as your baby’s routine vaccinations.

  • Get emotional support. Reach out when you need a helping hand! Whether it’s physical or emotional support, don’t be afraid to ask your health visitor, community healthcare team, or friends and family when you need help or advice. Bliss is also here to support neonatal parents. You can visit or contact

  • Order your nappies. Friends and families of babies born prematurely can now order their Pampers Preemie Protection Nappies online for free home delivery via Pampers also continue to donate Pampers Preemie Protection nappies direct to hospitals, and via ASDA pharmacies (in-store only and subject to availability)

Every person is different. Some parents leave and feel super empowered and ready to take it on – they can't wait to get home. But I’ve also had plenty of families in my career where the baby has been ready to go home and it's the family that's not ready.

Tierney Norris, NICU Nurse

How to Prepare? - Bringing Your Premature Baby Home Checklist

Take a look at our simple checklist to help you prepare when bringing a preemie home.

Adjusting to Life at Home With Your Premature Baby

Caring for a preterm baby at home may bring a lot of adjustments with it, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Both you and your family might feel the emotions of bringing a preemie home and the challenges of caring for a baby. Read on to learn more about how you and your family can prepare for life at home with your new arrival, and some tips from preemie parents who’ve been in your shoes.

Mental Health

Having a premature baby can bring a range of emotions for you and your family, and it’s important to take care of your mental health. Getting extra emotional or physical support from your community healthcare team and those around you can help you cope with the arrival of a preemie.

In some cases, those feelings can be down to postnatal depression, which affects 1 in 10 new mums. It can also affect partners. Signs of postnatal depression may include:

  • a feeling of sadness that persists

  • low energy and constant tiredness

  • a feeling of apathy for the world around you

  • sleep problems

  • withdrawing from people

  • difficulty bonding with or looking after your baby and yourself

  • having scary or negative thoughts.

If you or your partner are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may have postnatal depression, contact your GP or healthcare team for support. Remember, postnatal depression is common and you’re not alone.


Bringing a new baby into a home may be an exciting and fun time for your other children, but sometimes, it may cause feelings of jealousy or confusion with older siblings, especially when you factor in the added challenges that come with having a preemie. Your children may display challenging behaviour as they compete with your newborn for your attention, or experience feelings of fear and confusion due to everything that’s going on around them.

It may help to take time out of your day for some quality time with your newborn’s siblings and remind them that they’re just as important to you. You can even get them as involved as possible with your newborn – kids love to help! Perhaps talking to them about what’s happening and including them in your newborn’s daily routine may help, for example, changing nappies, bathing, etc.


You may be excited to finally show off your new bundle of joy; however, your baby may still be settling into their new environment – and you’re still settling into a new routine. So, limiting visitors for a while, especially if your baby is still recovering, may help you both settle into life back at home.

It may also help to maintain a calm and peaceful environment for your baby to rest and recover, as well as reduce the risk of any infections entering your home. But of course, whenever you feel ready for visitors, go for it!

How to Take Care of Your Preemie at Home

When caring for your preterm baby at home, creating an environment conducive to sleep, finding a good routine and learning good practices during bath time and changing nappies has shown to benefit babies. You can also find our helpful step-by-step guides on bathing and changing nappies in our article, How to Care For Your Preterm Baby’s Skin.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Nappy changes. When changing your baby’s nappy, take your time and stay calm to help your baby feel safe and secure. Pay attention to your baby's cues and comfort them if they show signs of being uncomfortable. You can now order Pampers Preemie Protection Nappies online for free home delivery via

  2. Bath time. When bathing your baby, it’s important to consider their delicate skin. It’s usually recommended to avoid using products in order to reduce skin irritation and consider giving them a ‘top-and-tail’ wash (face, neck and bottom) more frequently than a full bath.

  3. Sleep. Sleep is extremely important for a baby’s physical and cognitive development. And because preemies spend less time in the womb, they need to complete their development in the outside world. Some ways to help improve your baby’s sleep quality includes creating a calming bedtime routine, learning your baby’s sleep-wake cycles and using skin-to-skin touch. For more tips and helpful information, check out the effects of sleep on a preemie’s development. And you might also find the helpful for information on safe sleep for premature babies.

Tips From Preterm Parents

Every parent’s experience is different and each of them has faced challenges that they weren’t prepared for. These parents of premature babies wanted to share their own experiences to help and support other parents that are caring for a preemie at home and let them know that they’re not alone:

Liz gave birth to her daughter at 28 weeks. She discussed how the enormity of the situation really started to hit once she got home with her preemie, and how she hid her mental health struggles for a long time.

It is tough, and no one gets it unless you’ve been there. Listen to what your inner voice is telling you about how you are feeling and if you can’t accept it speak to someone you are close with or someone more objective like a GP. You have climbed the mountain of the neonatal unit but remember you are still climbing mountains as you bring up your little miracle.

Another mum, Jennifer, had her son at 33 weeks and 2 days. Her son stayed in NICU for 11 days. Jennifer recalls the support and the community of other parents in NICU, and she enjoyed the family events and having access to a forum for preemie parents.

Birth moms could use support and understanding that it’s okay when you need to ask for help, and when you need to step away.

Sherry gave birth to her daughter Jevonne at 29 weeks. Jevonne is now a fearless, determined and happy teenager, even through her struggles with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning difficulties. Her mother navigates life with her preemie as if it’s an adventure, because the best you can do is take it one day at a time, take care of yourself, and have hope and love in your life.

Even through the tangled schedules of appointments, therapies, school, work and carers, we find time for the silly stuff like games, face mask, pizza and movies night, afternoon teas, making silly videos and making dens. Because what is love without a bit of fun?

Follow-Up Appointments for Your Preterm Baby

After you return home with your baby, you may think the help ends there – but preterm care at home is still part of the journey and you’ll still receive support beyond the hospital!

Depending on your baby’s prematurity and progress, you may still attend follow-up appointments or receive visits from your health visitor or community healthcare team. Some babies may need more follow-up care post-discharge than others. This will be decided by your Neonatologist or Paediatrician during your initial follow-up appointment.

Here are some of the specialists your baby may see in their follow-up care and some of the appointments they may attend. Remember, these appointments are dependent on your baby’s needs:

  • Developmental Clinic (Physiotherapist, Paediatrician or Occupational therapist)

  • Ophthalmology (to check eye health)

  • Hearing screening

  • Cardiac follow-up (to check heart health)

  • Hip scan

  • Renal scan (to check how well their kidneys work)

  • Head ultrasound and MRI

  • Specialists in endocrinology (hormones and the glands that produce them)

  • Community Paediatricians.

Keep in mind that your GP, health visitor or community healthcare team are only a call away. They’ll continue to help you and give advice even when you’re back home.


When bringing a preterm baby home, the neonatal care staff will work closely with you to help you prepare and feel confident when caring for your baby at home. From practical skills such as nappy changing, feeding and bathing to administering medication to your baby or using medical equipment; these are a few things you’ll learn all about.

This can also be a difficult time for many preemie parents, so it’s important to look after your mental health and ask for support when you need it.

The Bottom Line

Bringing your premature baby home is an exciting time for your family, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. With the right preparation, resources and a whole lot of love, you can feel confident that you’re providing the best care for your baby. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are organisations, resources and support networks available to help you navigate this new experience. And remember, the most precious moments and memories can be made at home with your new baby.

Friends and families of babies born prematurely can now order their Pampers Preemie Protection Nappies online for free home delivery via Pampers also continue to donate Pampers Preemie Protection nappies direct to hospitals, and via ASDA pharmacies (in-store only and subject to availability)

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Read more about Prematurity

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