Going home on oxygen

Some babies born premature or sick who need extra help with breathing will go home 'on oxygen'. Find out more about what this involves.

The unit staff will have already discussed with you why your baby is now ready to go home. Usually it means that he or she is generally in good health, gaining weight and growing and feeding in a way that can be continued at home.

Some babies who need extra help with breathing will go home 'on oxygen'.


Unit staff will arrange a meeting with you before your baby is discharged so that you can discuss the future and ask any questions. If there is a community outreach worker or family care worker attached to the unit (someone who will visit you once your baby is at home), it is likely they will co-ordinate the discharge. This will include talking to you about the practical side of caring for your baby at home and what it means for the family.

If you do not have a community outreach worker, then someone from the special care baby unit (SCBU) will arrange the discharge instead. You should not be expected to do anything at home that has not been explained and demonstrated to you by a health professional.

Home on Oxygen Order Form (HOOF)

A member of staff will order your baby’s oxygen on a Home Oxygen Order Form (HOOF). They will also fill out a prescription or HOOF for the amount of oxygen your baby will need. This will be forwarded directly to the home oxygen provider covering your area and they will contact you to arrange for delivery and installation of the oxygen supply to your home. You will be asked for consent for the company to get in touch with you.

Although it seems daunting at the beginning, having your baby at home will mean that you can start caring for and enjoying him or her in your own way. As confidence grows, you will develop a routine and become more of an expert on your baby’s oxygen needs than the medical staff.

What is oxygen?

Oxygen is a gas that is necessary for all cells in the body to generate energy and function properly. The air we breathe normally has 21 per cent oxygen. A maximum of 100 per cent oxygen can be given. If your baby is prescribed oxygen it is important to follow the guidelines given to you by your baby’s doctor or nurse for administration.

Your oxygen supplier will have a call centre open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for urgent enquiries regarding the equipment.

Why does my baby need home oxygen?

Your baby’s lungs are not working well enough for him or her to get enough oxygen from the air. The most common reason for this is because of inflammation resulting from premature birth and insufficiency of the lungs. Your baby may, however, need oxygen for other reasons. If you are in any doubt, ask the staff looking after your baby.

The information on this page is over two years old