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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (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
Your baby will receive the focus and attention of a team of the best specialists. Because we only treat children and infants, our care team includes leading physicians in every major pediatric surgical and medical subspecialty — like neurology and others — right here on our main campus. That way if your baby needs a specialized type of care, our team can consult immediately, 24/7, with an expert colleague they know and trust.
The nurses who provide around-the-clock care for your baby are also specially trained in infant intensive care. Our NICU nurses maintain multiple certifications, including many certified lactation specialists, are nationally recognized, and have received Magnet™ designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
You can be with your baby anytime. We designed our NICU with input from parents and families like you, who have had a child in NICU care. From the comfortable, soundproof flooring and indirect lighting, to the large private patient rooms with comfortable rockers, our NICU is a soothing and secure environment for you and your child.
We know that your family is a core part of your baby’s recovery and healing. That is why we offer unique programs and services, like:
- Daily participation in rounds with the team of doctors and nurses caring for your baby
- Private rooms with comfortable rockers where we teach you to care for your child safely and comfortably, when you are both ready
- Child development specialists who will evaluate and design therapies to help your baby, when ready
- Social workers, chaplains and Child Life Specialists who can help different members of your family, including your infant’s siblings
Your baby is our focus, but the emotional and physical health of your entire family is our goal. Learn more about our Specialized Programs or visit our Resources for Families, where you will find information about what to expect while in the NICU, feeding and bonding resources and a list of supportive services we offer.
Our goal is to get your baby home with you as soon as is safely possible. Bringing home a tiny baby for the first time after a serious illness can be concerning for many parents. That’s why we offer Parent Transition Rooms, a hotel-like room that allows parents to “practice” being at home with their child — with the reassurance of the NICU staff nearby.
Our care doesn’t stop when you leave. Our Child Development Program evaluates NICU graduates to ensure they are developing appropriately.
See Our NICU Photo Gallery
Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the heart of Children's National Hospital Neonatology program, ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Learn about the NICU facilities and the support we provide for the entire family.
Epilepsy and Seizure
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.