Frequently Asked Questions About the NICUs at the Colorado Institute for Maternal & Fetal Health


The Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health is dedicated to you and your baby. We understand what you’re going through – and we strive to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during this difficult time.

These are some frequently asked questions to help you better understand the operations at our Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs).

Why are there two NICUs at different locations?

Simply put, the two NICUs offer the most expert, specialized care for newborns based on their specific situation. The Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health (CIMFH) was established to bridge decades of combined research and best practices at Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital.

The University of Colorado Hospital NICU has a Level III designation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, allowing the team to treat complicated infant conditions such as extreme prematurity and birth defects. The facility offers a 50-bed NICU staffed by neonatologists who have expertise in the care of those extremely premature, excelling in the care of babies less than 28 weeks of gestation.

Children’s Colorado offers an 84-bed NICU and has been a nationally recognized leader in the treatment of critically ill infants for more than 40 years. The facility is a Level IV NICU, the highest distinction by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The NICU offers advanced programs and services, such as brain cooling to improve neurologic outcomes for babies born with brain injuries, and treatment for respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension and virtually any medical condition affecting newborns.

Depending on the needs of the baby or babies, the CIMFH neonatal transport team can take them to whichever location provides the appropriate level of care. An important note: While each NICU is unique, both are served by the same expert team of physicians and specialists.

How often may I visit my baby, and when are extended family allowed to visit?

Parents may be with your newborn whenever you like, day or night. Our NICUs at Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital allow parental and designated family visitation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At Children’s Colorado, extended family can visit between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Non-siblings under the age of 13 must receive special permission from the Charge Nurse; to assist families, Children’s Colorado offers a Creative Play Center as a temporary day care for younger children during visitation hours.

At University of Colorado Hospital, designated family members may visit 24/7. Children under the age of 12 may visit if they are siblings of the patient; to assist families, the hospital NICU offers a “Bright Space” or play room within the unit for siblings of NICU patients (child supervision is not provided).

To prevent the spread of illness and protect our NICU babies, the following health guidelines are in place:
•    Review full visitation guidelines at Children’s Colorado
•    Review full visitation guidelines at University of Colorado Hospital

At both NICUs, all parents and siblings who visit are screened daily for potential illness that could be passed to newborns.

What about young siblings: Can they visit and are there restrictions?

Yes – young siblings are welcome to visit (please note the guidelines above). However, during seasonal flu and RSV season (a timeframe that varies each year) there are visitation restrictions in place for the safety and health of NICU patients. Speak with your nurse to verify visitation allowance for siblings.

Because young children often are new to the hospital experience, the NICU at Children’s Colorado offers in-house Child Life Specialists. These experts provide therapeutic guidance to help siblings of newborns learn to cope with the hospital setting. Our specialists use educational games and play situations to teach them about the reasons for illness and treatments needed to help their newborn sibling heal. (Note this is not available at University of Colorado Hospital.)

Am I able to breastfeed? Can I store and use my own milk?

We fully encourage mothers to breastfeed their newborns if possible. Our private rooms are comfortable and tailored for breastfeeding, and our teams are committed to helping you achieve your breastfeeding goals. All mothers interested in providing their breast milk are assisted in expressing their milk and given appropriate supplies to store their milk safely.

Children’s Colorado features a state-of-the-art Milk Lab that allows for storage and as-needed milk distribution to your child (we will train you on the feeding process to help you bond with your baby). Since its debut, our Milk Lab has been used as a model for other NICU milk facilities in the nation.  (Note the Milk Lab is not available at University of Colorado Hospital.)

Our NICUs both also provide lactation consultation and donor milk services.

Get more information on our Lactation Support Services

Can I sleep in the room with my child? Is there help available for overnight or extended stays?

The NICU at Children’s Colorado is equipped with a sleep area in every patient room.  We also provide three family sleep rooms in the NICU and more throughout the hospital. For details and room reservations in the NICU, call the Inpatient Service Specialist at 720-777-6857. If those are booked, rooms in the main hospital may be available by calling 720-777-6887. In addition, we offer family showers in the NICU and others throughout the main hospital. Call 720-777-6857 for locations and details.

See a full list of parent and family services at Children’s Colorado including a chapel, teen areas, concierge services and more.

The NICU at University of Colorado Hospital provides four sleep rooms in the NICU. For details and room reservations in the NICU, call the Patient Service Coordinator at 720-848-5224.

We are pleased to partner with the Ronald McDonald House (located near the Anschutz Medical Campus) in order to help families remain close at a discounted cost. A free shuttle takes guests to and from the campus.

Why do I need to wear a wrist band?

All babies at Children’s Colorado NICU have a medical record number (MRN) that allows parents and guardians to access their clinical information. The wrist band that parents are given lists this MRN so you have access to your child’s medical information at any time. This ID band also acts as a security measure – you are able to leave and return to the unit without additional levels of screening as long as you are wearing this band.

At the University of Colorado Hospital NICU, there are no wrist bands. An infant security monitoring system is used to ensure the safety of your baby.

Are there break areas or a cafeteria?

Both hospitals offer lounges and a full-service cafeteria. The NICU at Children’s Colorado provides two Parent Lounges for parents and families to gather and relax, with television and Wifi access throughout the unit. Restrooms are available in many of the patient rooms with seven additional family restrooms located throughout the NICU. Toiletries are available from the Inpatient Service Specialist by calling 720-777-6857. Drinking water can be accessed in the Family Lounges or your nurses are happy to assist.

Full-service cafeterias at both hospitals provide meals during normal operating hours. Children's Colorado food service details here and University of Colorado Hospital details here.

At University of Colorado Hospital, the NICU has a parent lounge with television and Wifi. The hospital features “Tea Time” on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – offering tea and refreshment for families.

When will I be able to speak to the doctor?

Your infant's medical team (including physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners and bedside nurses) is present in the NICU 24 hours a day. You are encouraged to join the medical team during bedside rounds every morning when your team of medical experts will discuss your baby's progress and plan of care. This is an excellent time to ask questions. If you are unable to attend medical rounds, simply ask your bedside nurse to contact your physician or nurse practitioner to come speak with you directly.

What about my primary OB or referring doctor? Are they given updates and allowed to participate in discussions about my newborn’s health?

Absolutely. Your referring physician is a partner in care, so if information sharing is a priority, your care team at the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health can work with referring healthcare professionals during your time with us.

How do I get to the NICU and where do I park?

Both NICUs are located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver. Get directions and parking information for the NICU at Children’s Colorado and the NICU at University of Colorado Hospital.