Medications after the NICU

Many babies go home from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on medication for apnea, reflux or respiratory problems. Apnea is a periodic interruption of breathing. With reflux, whatever is in the stomach sometimes backs up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.

You will learn to give your baby her medication before she leaves the hospital. Write down all the instructions and make sure you know:

  • How often to give the medication
  • If it should be given before, during or after feedings, or if it doesn't matter (some medications can be mixed with formula)
  • How much to give
  • How to give it
  • If the medication needs to be mixed or kept cold
  • What position the baby should be in
  • What to do if the baby spits up or vomits the medication
  • What to do if you miss a dose
  • Where to get the medication
  • If there are any side effects you should watch for
  • When to stop giving the medication
  • Whether the dose needs to increase as the baby grows
  • If your baby needs more than one medication, whether they can be given together or if you need to wait between doses

Keep a daily written schedule that helps you keep track of when you give the medicine, how much you give, and if there are any problems. Without a schedule, it's easy to forget if you've given your baby her medicine.

Often parents have all the information when they leave the hospital. But then they have questions when they get home. Don't be embarrassed to call your baby's health care provider if you have questions. It's important that you understand exactly what to do.

Many parents find that giving medications is a hassle. Often the baby is fussy and uncooperative. Try to make giving your baby her medication a daily habit, just like feedings and diaper changes.

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Last reviewed: August, 2014