Premature Babies

Premature Babies in the NICU

NICU Transport Helicopter

NICU Transport Helicopter
Premature Babies NICU Transport Helicopter. Brian Henning

Few people are prepared when they have a premature baby...

Although many people have family, friends, or acquaintances who have had a premature baby, few have set foot inside a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or know what to expect when they have a preemie.

This photo gallery of premature babies describes some of the things that you can expect in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when you have a premature baby.

A typical NICU Transport Helicopter that might be used to transport your baby to a hospital with a NICU.

If your premature baby is born in a hospital without a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU, it is possible that he or she will have to be transported to another hospital that provides a higher level of care.

Even if your hospital has a NICU, it is still possible that a transfer could be necessary, for example if they have a Level II NICU and your premature baby needs the specialized care that can only be provided at a Level III nursery.

Although this photo shows a NICU transport helicopter, depending on how stable they are and how far they have to travel, many premature babies are also transported by NICU transport ambulances.

34 Week Preemie in the NICU

34 Week Preemie in the NICU
Premature Babies 34 Week Preemie in the NICU. Vincent Iannelli, MD

A 34 week preemie in the NICU with an IV, feeding tube in his mouth, and nasal CPAP to help him breath well.

The nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) provides a little bit of extra help and pressure for his breathing, but is a big step below being on a ventilator. Many premature babies are put on CPAP after they are weaned off of a ventilator or if they are not sick enough for a ventilator.

Preemie Feeder and Grower

Preemie Feeder and Grower
Premature Babies Preemie Feeder and Grower. Vincent Iannelli, MD

A 34 week preemie without problems who just needs to eat and get bigger before he can go home, a typical 'feeder and grower.'

During this time, an older preemie is often simply advanced on his feeds, gets help breastfeeding, and is observed in the NICU for problems, such as apnea of prematurity, feeding problems, infections, jaundice, and problems regulating their temperature, etc.

Preemie Twins

Preemie Twins
Premature Babies Preemie Twins. Michael Blackburn

Premature twin babies in the NICU.

Newborn Preemie

Newborn Preemie
Premature Babies Newborn Preemie. Brent Deuel

A newborn premature baby who is undergoing a typical resuscitation after being born.

The long plastic tube is delivering blow-by oxygen to the baby.

Intubated Preemie

Intubated Preemie
Premature Babies Intubated Preemie. Steve Lovegrove

An intubated premature baby in the NICU.

Unlike the more typical way of being intubated or put on a breathing tube in their mouth, this premature baby has the ventilator tube in his nose.

A ventilator can be necessary for premature babies who have premature lungs, infections, or who are having a lot of apnea, among other conditions.

The wires on his chest include a temperature probe to help regulate his temperature (the found shiny thing on his chest) and probes to monitor his heart rate and respiratory or breathing rate.

He also likely has an IV going into his umbilicus or belly button, where you can see the folded tape and he has an IV going into his arm. The IVs are used to give him fluids and medicines.

Preemie on a Ventilator

Preemie on a Ventilator
Premature Babies Preemie on a Ventilator. Matthew Hull

A premature baby getting help to breath from a ventilator in a typical NICU bed.


Premature Babies Phototherapy. Jacqueline Hunkele

A preemie getting phototherpy in the NICU.

Premature Baby

Premature Baby
Premature Babies Premature Baby. Jacqueline Hunkele

A premature baby in a NICU isolete.


Premature Babies CPAP. Matthew Hull

A premature baby getting help breathing with nasal CPAP.

Preemie Closeup

Preemie Closeup
Premature Babies Preemie Closeup. Alison Hausmann

A closeup of a premature baby on CPAP holding her mom's finger.

Jaundiced Preemie

Jaundiced Preemie
Premature Babies Jaundiced Preemie. Jacqueline Hunkele

A jaundiced baby in the NICU with a nasogastric or NG tube in his nose.


Premature Babies Phototherapy. Kris Van den Bossche

A closeup of the face of a baby with jaundice getting phototherapy. The mask is to protect the baby's eyes from the ultraviolet light.

Phototherapy NICU

Phototherapy in the NICU
Premature Babies Phototherapy in the NICU. Steve Lovegrove

Phototherapy treatment for a premature baby in the NICU who has jaundice.

Preemie Getting Phototherapy

Preemie Getting Phototherapy
Premature Babies Preemie Getting Phototherapy. Steve Lovegrove

A premature baby in the NICU with jaundice being treated with phototherapy.

Preemie on CPAP

Preemie on CPAP
Premature Babies Preemie on CPAP. Vincent Iannelli, MD

A 34 week preemie in the NICU on nasal CPAP, with a feeding tube and IV.

Twins in the Special Care Nursery

Twins in the Special Care Nursery
Premature Babies Twins in the Special Care Nursery. Vincent Iannelli, MD

Twin preemies in the special care nursery or step down nursery, where they typically go in the NICU as they are getting older and healthier and getting ready to go home.

Preemie in a Car Seat - Premature Baby in a Car Seat

Preemie in a Car Seat
Premature Babies Preemie in a Car Seat. Michael Blackburn

Fortunately, most premature babies have gained enough weight by the time that they are sent home from the NICU that they are able to sit in a regular car seat just fine. In fact, most NICUs make sure that their premature babies pass a 'car seat test' before they can go home.

This car seat test for premature babies typically involves having the baby sit in the car seat for a period of time while still in the NICU and making sure that he doesn't have any problems with his breathing or heart rate.

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