The Essential NICU Homecoming Checklist

Couple with new baby at home in rocking chair

Oh, happy day- your NICU warrior is FINALLY coming home!

This is the day that you’ve wished, waited, and hoped for, and you want everything to be PERFECT for your baby’s homecoming. There’s a surprising amount of prep work that goes into preparing for a tiny person who weighs less than a gallon of milk, and in your excitement about going home, it’s easy to overlook some important details. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

NICU babies often require things beyond the basic baby checklist, so we’ve prepared a thorough, NICU-friendly checklist to ensure you have everything on hand to welcome your sweet little one home!

Rent Necessary Equipment

Your NICU baby might need a few extra “accessories” at home (apnea monitor, feeding tube, oxygen, etc). It can take time to get everything rented through a local home health supplier and approved by insurance, so it’s important to start the process several weeks before your baby is discharged.

Secure Home Health Care

Some NICU babies require ongoing nursing care after they leave the hospital. If your family will be using home health care, you’ll want to line it up as early as possible. You might even be able to meet your nurses before your baby goes home!

Stock Up on Formula

If your little one is on a special formula, you’ll want to make sure you have a good stockpile- especially with the current formula shortage. If you’re having trouble locating your child’s brand, consult with your NICU staff or pediatrician. You might also want to check out websites like findmybabyformula.com or the FormulaFinder app.

Buy Plenty of Bottles

If your baby is bottle-fed, you’ll probably go home with a decent stash of itty-bitty bottles from the NICU, but your growing baby is going to outgrow those fast! It helps to have at least a few bigger bottles on hand so they’re ready when you need them. Some parents prefer to buy a few different brands to see which one their baby prefers.

Don’t Forget YOUR Food

Parents have to eat too and cooking will be the last thing on your mind when you have a newborn at home! Remember all those wonderful friends that offered help? Now is the time to take them up on it. Organize a meal train (or ask a friend to do it) and rest assured that dinner is covered!

Plan Ahead for Visitors

Homecoming is a huge deal, and everyone will be anxious to see this little one they’ve heard so much about! But that doesn’t mean you can (or should!) invite everyone over all at once. 

Before you go home, think about a visitation schedule that works for your family. A newborn is a big adjustment, and you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with a crowd of people immediately. (And it’s not a bad idea to consider if you’d like guests to wear masks, or if you’re okay with hand washing and sanitizer)

NICU babies are still very susceptible to germs, and it might be a good idea to limit guests to close friends and family for the next few months. When your pediatrician gives you the go-ahead, you can begin introducing your baby to all the wonderful people that cheered them on during those early NICU days! 

Grab LOTS of Diapers

Your NICU baby has likely already outgrown the teeny diapers they started with- and that trend will continue! Buy a few packs of your child’s current size, as well as a pack or two of the next size. That makes it easy to size up without an emergency trip to the store!

Schedule Follow-Up Appointments

You’re leaving the hospital, but every baby requires follow-up visits, and NICU babies tend to have a LOT! Get those appointments with various specialists scheduled to avoid conflicting appointment times or multiple visits in a day.

Prepare Your Pets

Your furry family members will be thrilled to finally meet the new arrival, but you’ll want to prepare them so they don’t get overwhelmed or overexcited. Bring home a blanket or piece of clothing and let them give it a thorough sniff to get used to baby’s scent.

Organize Important Information

This can include a list of important phone numbers, insurance information, discharge and follow-up instructions and more. If you think you might need to access information in a hurry, it’s best to get it organized ahead of time.

Getting everything in order for your baby’s homecoming will give you peace of mind and make the big day smooth and worry-free!