Equipments you will find in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Equipments you will find in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

It’s always an overwhelming experience for any parent the first time they go to the NICU because of the sights of different types of equipment, sounds, and light. Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) have complex machines and devices for the unique needs of tiny babies.

Below are some of the equipment you will find in a Neonatal intensive care unit.



The incubator is a see-through box on wheels that keeps your baby warm and protects them from germs and noise. It may be open, with an overhead heater or heated mattress, or closed, with a lid, to keep the air around your baby warm and humid. You can touch your baby through holes (also called ports) on the sides of the incubator.


Overhead heaters

A heater for an open incubator to make sure your baby’s temperature is correct.



CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

CPAP is a machine that sends air and oxygen to your baby’s lungs through small tubes in his nose or windpipe (also called trachea). The tubes are attached to a ventilator (respirator), which helps your baby breathe but does not breathe for her. This device prevents airway sacs from collapsing after each breath.


Read Also: What is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit



The monitors are used in to check your baby’s breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity in his blood. They also alert staff if your baby has apnoea, in which the baby stops breathing for more than 10-20 seconds. This is quite common in premature babies.




A breathing machine (also called a respirator) that delivers warmed and humidified air to a baby’s lungs. The sickest babies receive mechanical ventilation, meaning that the ventilator breathes for them while their lungs grow or recover.

The air is delivered to the baby’s lungs through an endotracheal tube. The amount of oxygen, air pressure, and the number of breaths per minute can be regulated to meet each baby’s needs.


Central line

This is an intravenous line usually inserted into a vein in the arm and threaded from there into a larger vein close to the heart. Doctors can draw blood through the central line or use it to give your baby medicine or fluids. A percutaneous intravenous central catheter (PICC) is a type of central line that is placed in one of the major blood vessels.


Read Also: Who Works in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


Phototherapy lights


BP Apparatus



A device attached to an ET tube or a mask to deliver vaporized fluids and medications to the baby’s airway.


Oxygen hood.

This is a clear, plastic box that fits over the baby’s head and supplies her with oxygen-enriched air. This is normally used for babies who can breathe on their own but still need some extra oxygen.


Pulse oximeter. 

This is a small, U-shaped device that’s wrapped around your baby’s foot or hand that uses a light sensor to measure her blood-oxygen level and heart rate. It allows the monitoring of blood oxygen without the need for frequent blood samples.


Radiant warmer

An open bed with an overhead heating source that provides heat to the baby. An infant may be placed in a warmer instead of a baby incubator if she needs to be handled frequently, or while she is undergoing NICU monitoring procedures.


Umbilical catheter. 

Your baby’s umbilical cord, with two arteries and one vein which ends in her belly button, allows access to her circulatory system for the first few days of life. A thin tube can be inserted into one of these arteries and threaded to the aorta.

Through this catheter, doctors and nurses can painlessly draw blood, so they don’t have to repeatedly stick the baby with needles. They can give her fluids, blood, nutrients, and medications through this tube. A small device can be attached to the catheter to continuously monitor a baby’s blood pressure.


Ambient oxygen analyzer

This small appliance sits inside the incubator to make sure there is enough oxygen in the air.


Intravenous ( IV ) drip

This is a tube inserted with a needle into your baby’s vein. A vein is a blood vessel that brings blood back to the heart. Your baby can get fluids, medicine, and blood through an IV. If your baby needs a drip for a long time, the team might insert a catheter (also called a PICC line or long line), which doesn’t need to be changed so often.


Power supply

The point from where the power comes to power the other machines. All hospitals have back-up power in case of a power cut.


Dr Jeffrey Uchenna

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