Visiting the NICU

An infant’s journey from the womb to the world can be difficult, especially for those in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. That’s why a baby in the NICU needs the same love and attention as other newborns. The large machinery and the fragile health of your child shouldn’t keep you from visiting, because that is the best way to be involved in your baby’s care.

The Walter R. G. Baker NICU is located on the ninth floor of Crouse Hospital’s Irving Unit. As you exit the elevators, turn right and proceed down the hall toward the double doors. The unit is both locked and monitored by video for everyone’s security. The staff or volunteer at the reception window will let you into the unit. If no one is present, there is an intercom directly across from the window. Press the button and a staff member will open the door for you.

Across from the reception window is the Family Lounge. You will find a place to sit with family members, reading material, television, a small refrigerator for food or beverages you bring along and lockers for valuables. Keys to the lockers can be signed out at reception window.

Just before the double doors is a sink. We ask everyone who enters the NICU to wash their hands at this sink with soap and water for three minutes. Hand washing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent infections for your baby and all the other babies in the NICU.

Keeping in mind the ever-changing needs of our littlest patients, visiting hours and requirements may change as needed. For more information about visiting the NICU, please call 315-470-7577.

Note ongoing changes and updates resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. Click here for the most current visitation policy.

+When Can I Visit My Baby?

Note ongoing changes and updates resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. Click here for the most current visitation policy.

In a word – anytime. Parents are welcome in the NICU 24 hours a day.

For everyone’s safety we ask the following:

  • The staff will ask to see your baby ID band or photo ID.
  • If anyone visiting has cold symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat or fever) they should not visit. Face masks only provide a small amount of protection. If a visitor thinks they need a mask, they are probably too sick to visit.
  • Please be sure your clothing is free of perfumes, colognes, smoke or other strong odors as these are harmful to your baby’s lungs.
  • Respect the privacy of other families by staying at your baby’s bedside. Understand we will not answer questions about other patients or share information about your baby to other families.
  • No food items are allowed in patient care areas per New York State regulations.
  • If you choose to bring clothes or blankets from home for your baby they must be washed and labeled before bringing to the NICU. Please only bring items or toys that can be washed. Stuffed animals are not permitted.

In special circumstances a nursery may be closed to all visitors during a sterile procedure or an emergency. Let a staff member know you are here and we will inform you as soon as the room has reopened.

+The Importance of Handwashing

When should I wash my hands?

  • Before entering the unit, wash your hands.
  • Before touching or holding your baby, wash your hands.
  • After changing your baby’s diaper, wash your hands.
  • Anytime you touch your hair, face or blow your nose, wash your hands.
  • Anytime you touch personal items, counters, furniture, wash your hands.
  • Immediately after handling your CELL PHONE, wash your hands.
  • After leaving nursery and returning to the family waiting room, wash your hands.
  • Anytime you wonder if you should wash, wash your hands again.

How do I wash my hands?

  • When you enter the nursery each day perform a 3 minute scrub, by washing with soap and water from your hands to your elbows.
  • After the initial scrub, anytime you need to wash your hands, either soap and water or hospital disinfectant hand gel is fine.
  • Hand gel is available at every baby’s bedside and at every entrance and exit.
  • A sticky buildup will form on your hands after using gel a few times, use soap and water to remove it.
  • Every nursery has at least one sink.

+Cell Phones

One of our most important jobs is to provide a safe and healthy environment for you and your baby. Cell phones present a serious infection risk for preterm and sick babies.

Cell phones have been proven to carry many germs that can cause serious infections in infants.

Cell phones should be turned off while in the unit. They may be used for taking photos. We ask you not to talk on your phone or text while spending time with your child. Please do not use your phone while holding your baby. We will be happy to take pictures of you and your baby for you with your phone. Most importantly, wash or gel your hands after using your cell phone or camera.

+Use of Camera & Video Equipment

Still photos and videos of your baby may be taken with your camera or video camera at anytime. If you so choose, professional photographers can provide portrait photographs prior to discharge. There is a fee for these photographs and arrangements may be made at the nurse’s station. Please do not photograph or videotape other infants in the unit.

+NICU Knowledge System

Our user-friendly computer kiosk provides parents with current information about the NICU. The kiosk is available in the NICU Family Waiting Area.

+NICU Vocabulary

When you’re in the NICU, you may hear many technical terms the staff uses while caring for your baby. You may want to familiarize yourself with these terms to better understand the NICU environment.

  • Antibiotics: Medicine used to treat infection
  • Apnea: A pause in breathing for 20 seconds, or shorter length of time, accompanied by a slower than normal heart rate (bradycardia), skin that has a blue tinge from lack of oxygen (cyanosis) and/or a very pale color (pallor).
  • Bilirubin (Bili): A substance made by the body when red blood cells are broken down. Too much Bilirubin causes neonatal jaundice, meaning that the baby’s skin will look yellow.
  • Blood gas: A blood test taken to measure the levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid (pH) in the baby’s blood. This test indicates how well the baby’s lungs are working.
  • Bradycardia: A slowing of the baby’s heart beat below the normal levels of the resting heart rate.
  • IV Catheter: A tube used to administer fluids and medications.
  • Colostrum: Breast milk produced during the first few days after birth. Colostrum is high in antibodies that help protect the baby from infection.
  • Cyanosis: Blueness of the skin resulting from a lack of oxygen.
  • Endotracheal (ET) Tube: A soft plastic tube inserted into the baby’s mouth and down the trachea that is connected to a machine (ventilator), which helps the baby breathe.
  • Gavage Feeding: A method of feeding in which a soft tube is inserted into the baby’s nose or mouth and into the stomach to provide food if the baby cannot suck or swallow.
  • Hematocrit (Crit): The percentage of red blood cells in the blood.
  • Incubator (Isolette): A clear, enclosed bed that provides a warm temperature-controlled environment for sick or premature babies.
  • Jaundice: When the baby’s skin appears yellow due to an increased amount of bilirubin in the blood
  • Meconium: A dark green or black tarry stool formed in the baby’s intestines while the baby is still in the uterus. This stool is passed as a newborn in the first few days of life.
  • Neonate: A baby who is 30 days old or younger.
  • NPO: An abbreviation for “nothing by mouth,” meaning that the baby cannot receive anything through the mouth.
  • Premature (“preemie”): A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • PICC Line: An intravenous (IV) tube providing fluids into a large vein that can be left in place for 30 days or longer.
  • Respirator (ventilator): A machine used to help the baby breathe.
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): A lung complication in which the baby’s air sacs (alveoli) collapse when the baby exhales due to an absence of surfactant.
  • Sepsis: An infection in the blood.
  • Sepsis workup: A series of tests that looks for sepsis in the blood, urine, spinal fluid and/or lungs.
  • Tachypnea: Faster than normal breathing rate.
  • Vital signs: Measurement of the baby’s heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate and pain assesment.
  • Warmer (radiant warmer): An open bed with radiant heaters above it. Warmers help warm the baby immediately after birth and allow care givers to more easily access the baby.