Welcome to Ridgeview Medical Center, and congratulations on the birth of your infant!
Because you are the most important member of your infant’s health care team, our goal is to involve you in the care of your infant as much as possible during your infant’s stay. We welcome and encourage your participation and input. These guidelines will provide information about visitation, touching and holding your infant, and protecting your infant from infection. You will receive a lot of information in the next few days, so please write down any questions you may have so that your baby’s doctor or nurse can answer them. We are here to help you in any way we can.
Here are some things you should know:
There are no limitations for parent visitation, with the exception of parents with contagious illnesses.
- You are welcome to call the unit at any time to get information. Only parents are given information by phone regarding your baby’s condition.
- There is a closet in your baby’s room available for you to store purses, coats, bags, etc., while you visit. Please take home belongings, such as baby gifts, that you will not need in the Neonatal Care Unit.
- All cell phones must remain off while you are in the unit. Cell phones are allowed in the family lounge.
- When you enter the unit, please remove all jewelry from your wrists and hands. We have safety pins available to secure your jewelry if needed.
- Jewelry gives germs a place to hide even after hand washing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 2 minutes when you first enter the room. Prior to touching your infant, please use the foam hand rinse found at each bedside. We recommend that you wash frequently and also use the foam hand rinse. If you change a diaper or your hands become soiled, please return to the sink and rewash your hands with soap and water. For those who have sensitive skin, there is lotion available in all rooms.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see someone getting ready to touch your infant without washing his or her hands or using the foam hand rinse.
- Consider not visiting your child if you have a fever, flu or diarrhea. If you have a cold, cough, skin rash or skin infection, please talk with your nurse or doctor to determine the appropriate way to protect your child during your visit. This may mean wearing a mask, gloves or gown.
Touching and Holding
- Premature and sick infants need all their energy to grow and heal. Handling and touching can use that energy and sometimes be too stressful for them. While your child is in the Neonatal Care Unit, we ask that you talk to the nurse prior to touching or waking your infant.
- Your nurse can show you non-stressful ways to touch your infant.
- When your baby is well enough to be held, the nurse will help you get your baby out of their bed and help position tubes, wires or equipment.
- Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) is another way you can hold your infant. Ask your nurse for more information about this.
- Infants have ways of showing us when they need a break from being handled. Common signals are hiccups, keeping their eyes closed, spreading fingers in a “stop” signal, looking away, and/or having lower oxygen saturation readings. These signals will help you recognize when your infant needs rest.
Brothers and Sisters
Brothers and sisters also begin to develop relationships with a new baby. Visiting a new baby should include preparation and explanation of what the sibling will see. Plan to focus your attention on the brother or sister during the visit. Siblings may visit any time except during RSV season, generally defined as November 1 through March 31.
- During RSV season, sibling (less than 12 years of age) visitation is limited to a 15-minute visit, once a week. The exception to this is multiples, who may visit their hospitalized sibling at any time during cold season if they pass the screening.
- Due to the extreme contagiousness of chicken pox, siblings must have had the chicken pox vaccine or disease, or they may not visit.
- An infection screening tool must be completed for all siblings under the age of 12.
- The length of visit will vary depending on the age and interest level of your child.
- Instruct your children on proper hand washing and appropriate touching and handling.
- Visiting hours are from 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
- Grandparents may visit at any time during visiting hours when a parent is present.
- You may have a total of four guests, other than grandparents, visit each day. Each guest visit should be limited to 10 minutes per day.
- We ask that no more than four people are at your infant’s bedside at one time (parents and two guests).
- Guests may be asked to leave from 3–3:30 p.m., and again from 7–7:30 p.m. These are our change of shift report times and confidential information is shared.
- Instruct guests to wash their hands.
- Guests will not be allowed to touch your infant unless we have your permission. Parents and nursing staff will determine if the infant is stable enough to tolerate being touched.
- If your guest is sick, they cannot visit.
- No one under the age of 16 will be allowed to visit except the infant’s brother or sister.
- In the event parents are not able to visit regularly, you may speak with the nurse practitioner about another caregiver that may visit without parents being present.
Please remember that this is a Neonatal Care Unit and there may be times we will need to limit visitors to parents only. This will be at the discretion of the nurse practitioner and physician.
Special Notes for Sibling Visits
We recognize the importance of brothers and sisters visiting the baby in the hospital. Here are some ways to help make the visits positive.
1. Keeps visits short. It’s important that siblings see the baby and where she’s being cared for; however, a sleeping baby isn’t nearly as interesting to a 2-year-old as it is to parents! Plan on about 5 minutes for children under age 4.
2. Hold young children in your arms. This gives them a better view of the baby. It also gives them a sense of security in the unusual Neonatal Care Unit environment.
3. Prepare siblings by describing what they will see and what they can do.
- Use simple words to explain the word “premature,” or what part of the baby’s body is not working well. Young children understand that bigger and stronger are usually good, so use those words in your explanations. Examples:
- “The baby was born early and needs to stay in the hospital to grow and get stronger.”
- “Her lungs—the part of your body that helps you breathe—are too little for her to breathe by herself.”
- For young children (under 3 years), a simple “The baby has an owie on her (part of body)” may be enough of an explanation for most visits.
- Describe tubes, bandages, and equipment on the baby, such as an IV or a nasal canula.
- “There are some tubes and tape on her hand and foot. They give her water and medicine. They don’t hurt.”
- “The tube on her face helps her breathe more comfortably.”
- Explain that the baby may be sleeping. Tell your children if the baby is not wearing clothes, that she stays warm with blankets, warm lights or a warm bed.
4. Tell them what they can do during the visit, rather than what they cannot do. For example, after washing their hands, they might:
- Touch the baby’s hand, arm, leg, head, etc.
- Sing a song.
- Tell the story from a favorite book (or read a book to the baby).
- Describe something fun or unusual that they’ve done recently (in school, in scouts, with friends or family, etc.)
5. Take a picture of the older child(ren) and baby (standing by the bed or touching a hand, for example). If possible, take a family photo, too.
If you have questions before or after your older children visit, please talk with your baby’s nurse.
*If you're looking for more general visitor information, click here.