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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Infant in an incubator in the NICU

Best Care for Babies

For 5 years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked our Neonatology program #1 in the country.

Tour our NICU

If you have a sick or premature infant, you want and need the absolute best care possible. U.S. News & World Report has ranked our neonatology program just that —  number one in the country.

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. Learn more about the different levels of NICU care (PDF).

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 health care providers, including pediatric subspecialists, specialized nurses and equipment to care for very sick babies.

Take a peek into the NICU at Children's National with Dr. Billie Short.

What to Expect in Our NICU


Avery's Story

Epilepsy and Seizure

Patient Avery Bullard at the Race for Every Child.

Faced with an APGAR score of one, which indicated Avery was struggling, the team quickly recognized the infant had hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), one of the most severe complications that can affect full-term infants.

Avery's Story