Equipment on the Special Care Baby Unit

Incubators and Cots

  • Your baby may require to be nursed in an incubator. This lets staff closely observe babies in a carefully controlled, warm environment. If required, staff can give an ‘enriched oxygen’ air supply in the incubator.
  • Sometimes staff nurse babies under a warm heater in an open cot. Again, this allows for easy observation and access to baby.
  • Bigger babies may be nursed in a standard size hospital cot.

Breathing equipment

Sometimes it is necessary for sick babies to have help with their breathing. There are different machines, which help with breathing.

They are called:

A Ventilator (also known as a life support machine)

C.P.A.P machine

Some babies need help with their breathing just for a short time, a few hours or days, while others may require this support for weeks at a time.

Babies often go onto cylinder oxygen and again babies can be on oxygen for a short time or some babies may go home still requiring support from oxygen.

X Ray Equipment

If your baby has to have an x-ray, the radiographer usually uses a special portable x-ray machine, which can be used on the unit.

Occasionally babies need to visit the x-ray department for some x-rays and scans.

Monitoring Equipment

Many babies on neonatal units need continuous monitoring of their vital signs such as breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels.

There are a number of monitors that measure your baby’s vital signs. The nursing staff set alarm limits on these monitors to alert them to changes in your baby’s vital signs. The alarms that sound on the unit will soon become familiar to you.

Please try not to worry too much about all of these technical details, the nurses caring for your baby will explain everything to you.

It is also important to remember that the alarms often sound just because your baby is moving around and they do not always mean there is a problem.

Please DO NOT silence or turn off the alarms on your baby’s monitors. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to call for a member of staff.

Giving Fluids and Medication to Your Baby

Often babies on neonatal units need ‘intravenous fluids’. This is when fluids are given to the baby directly into the blood stream.

This provides them with all the hydration and nutrition they need until they are well enough to cope with full mil feeds.

These fluids are given trough an infusion pump, which can deliver precise volumes of fluid into your baby’s small veins. This is commonly known as a ‘drip’.

Medications can also be given to your baby via similar devices called syringe pumps.


If your baby becomes jaundiced, which is very common, particularly with premature babies, they may need treatment with a special lamp called a phototherapy unit.

The bright light helps the body break down the jaundice. It is important to protect the eyes during this treatment. Staff do this with a special shield or eye mask equipment.