When will my baby be able to go home?

Nurse tube feeding a baby in a cot while the parents sit nearby

You may be worried about when you will be able to go home from the neonatal unit with your premature or sick baby, and if you are ready to go home. Find out more.

To decide if your baby is ready to go home, the staff at the unit will consider if your baby:

  • is able to control their temperature
  • is feeding well and gaining weight
  • can breathe on their own or with the help of oxygen
  • no longer needs nursing or medical care in hospital

If your baby still has feeding or breathing difficulties or needs more specialist help, they may still be able to go home. The unit staff will talk about your baby’s specific needs with you and ensure you feel confident in caring for your baby. They will also arrange follow-up appointments.

If you have questions or concerns, talk to the unit staff. They will be happy to help.

My baby was born premature. Will they have to stay in hospital until they reach their due date?

Not always. Some babies will stay at hospital until after their due date and some may leave before. The unit staff will work with you to decide when your discharge date should be.

You may have a meeting involving unit staff and other healthcare professionals involved in your baby’s care. This should take place as soon as the unit staff think your baby is close to going home. The meeting will help prepare for discharge, decide when your baby will be able to go home and talk about what support your baby will need.

If your baby is feeding well, gaining weight and has no other problems, they may be well enough to go home before their original due date.

I don’t feel ready to go home yet, and I’m worried about the lack of support

It is very important that you feel it is the right time to bring your baby home too. Some parents feel like they’re not ready to leave the unit and go home. But unit staff will work with you to ensure that you feel ready to care for your baby independently. Units should offer the chance to ‘room in’, which is where you care for your baby overnight in a room on the unit for a few days.

If you don’t feel ready to go home or have any other worries, it is important to talk to unit staff about how you are feeling.

We have more information about the medical support and other support you can get at home.

In many units, we also have Bliss Champions who provide support to families across the UK. If you have a Bliss Champion in your unit, you can talk to them about any worries you have about leaving the unit. They can show you how to find information or further support that may be helpful.