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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Infant in an incubator in the NICU

Best Care for Babies

U.S. News & World Report ranks our Neonatology program #2 in the nation.

Tour our NICU

If you have a sick or premature infant, you want and need the best possible care. You'll find that care at Children's National Hospital — U.S. News & World Report ranks our neonatology program number 2 in the nation.

At Children’s National, our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a Level IV NICU.  As a Level IV NICU, we offer the highest level of care for premature and ill newborns, as designated by The American Academy of Pediatrics. This means we can:

  • Offer the full range of pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists and pediatric anesthesiologists on site. Learn more about our team.
  • Perform complex surgical procedures to repair complex congenital or acquired conditions
  • Arrange for babies to come to the NICU and provide education for parents and families

Understanding NICU Levels

All neonatal intensive care units care for babies who need special help, but different NICUs offer different levels of care.

  • Level 1: Basic Care: Level I NICUs provide care for healthy, full-term babies. They also stabilize near-term babies to get them ready to be moved to specialized facilities.
  • Level 2: Advanced Care: Level II NICUs offer care for babies born at or after 32 weeks and babies who are recovering from more serious health problems.
  • Level 3: Specialized Care: Level III NICUs care for very sick babies and offer access to a wide range of pediatric specialists and equipment, such as X-rays and ventilation support. The babies in these nurseries are generally born earlier than 32 weeks or have critical illnesses.
  • Level 4: Highest Level of Care: Level IV NICUs provide the highest level of neonatal care. They have a full range of healthcare providers, including pediatric subspecialists, specialized nurses and equipment to care for very sick babies.

What to Expect in Our NICU

Nick's Story


Baby Nick in a sled
When Nick Cornelius passed his pediatrician’s two-year-old well-child check-up with flying colors, his parents were thrilled. Probably even more thrilled than typical first-time toddler parents, because Nick’s life up to that point had been anything but typical. Nick's Story