All family and friends of NICU patients will be issued a temporary badge when entering Arkansas Children's. When you come to the NICU for the first time, you will stop at the NICU reception desk to check in. All parents, guardians, grandparents and designated family or friends will receive a badge specific to NICU. A picture ID will need to be presented to issue a badge. The receptionist will issue each person a NICU badge. This is the badge you will need to enter the NICU while your baby is a patient here. When you come to the NICU for the first time a staff member will give you an orientation of the NICU and review the NICU Family & Friends Guidelines.

When your baby first arrives in the NICU, visitation may be limited while the staff examine your baby and perform certain tests. The parents, grandparents, and your designated family and friends will be able to see your baby as soon as possible.

NICU Visitor - COVID-19 Policy

  • NICU patients with 2 parents/caregivers present in the pod setting will be asked to have 1 person step out IF the total number of parents/caregivers in the pod is >5 and/or social-distancing is compromised such as with one of the following scenarios:
    • Both parent/caregivers are present for patients in adjacent bed spaces in a pod
    • Code button is activated requiring the NICU code team to be in the pod
    • Admission of a new patient to a pod
  • In such cases where only one parent/caregiver can be at the bedside in the NICU, they may swap out in the patient's private room. If their child is in a pod, they may swap out in the NICU Family House or outside the NICU main entrance.
  • When not in the NICU, parent/caregivers may wait in the NICU Family House, 3rd floor atrium or another location where they can socially distance from others. They may be required to wait outside of the hospital or in their car if space inside the hospital is limited.
  • The NICU unit secretaries will utilize the Green Security Visitor Management system to monitor and limit the total number of parents/caregivers in each pod to a max of 5 at any given time (2 parent/caregivers max per private room unless an exception has been approved by the NICU Director).
  • NICU pod leaders & NICU nursing leadership (TL, CE, PCM, & Director) will also help monitor the number of parents/caregivers in each pod.
  • In the open pods of the NICU, the expectation is for parents/caregivers to wear their mask at all times and socially-distance as much as possible from team members and families of other patients.
  • Blue privacy screens may be utilized between patient bed spaces in the pods when parents/caregivers are present in adjacent bed spaces to provide privacy and serve as a reminder to keep socially distanced.

Required Badges

The badge must be worn at all times. All other guests will be given a temporary NICU badge when they visit and must be with a parent or guardian to enter the NICU.

Sibling and Guests Visitation

  • Siblings of a baby in the NICU must be over age two to visit. A sibling screening sheet must first be completed by a NICU staff member, to learn about recent illnesses and immunizations. Children must have adult supervision at all times.
  • Child Life Specialists are available to help siblings understand what they might see and hear in the NICU. Simply ask your baby's nurse if you would like to speak with a Child Life Specialist.
  • Siblings are allowed in the Family House until 9:00 pm. Siblings under the age of 18 are not allowed to stay overnight in the NICU Family House.
  • All guests, other than siblings accompanying the parents, should be at least 16 years of age.
  • We ask that only 2 family members or guests be present at the bedside at one time. Other guests are asked to remain in the NICU Family House while waiting their turn to visit. The NICU Family House is located just past the reception desk and to the left.

Visiting Times

There is no restricted visiting for parents or guardians. You are encouraged to spend as much time with your child as possible during their entire hospital stay. Grandparents, designated family and friends may visit during general hospital visiting hours from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Exceptions are made for new admissions to the NICU.

Parent Expectations

Family and friends are invited to be present during nursing shift changes. Please be aware that your baby's nurse may not be able to address all of your questions during that busy time. We also invite parents to participate during the daytime rounds of the medical team, which can occur at different times throughout the day. Please let your baby's nurse know if you would like to be present for rounds so that you may be contacted.

Visiting certain areas of the NICU may be restricted for short periods of time due to surgical procedures being performed in that area.

Visitor Restrictions During Flu Season

During Flu Season, for the protection of your baby, no one under the age of 16 (unless a parent) will be permitted into the NICU. This policy is in place to protect the NICU babies from catching cold/flu bugs and causing life-threatening diseases. Flu Season starts in the fall and ends in the spring. Flu Season dates vary from year to year and are determined by Infection Control. Signs will be posted to advise family and friends when Flu season starts.

Family House

The NICU Family House is on the 3rd Floor of the South Wing just inside the NICU. A Family service representative is available from 8:00 am to 9:30 pm to assist with overnight accommodations, as well as reservations for Ronald McDonald House. Parents are encouraged to use the waiting room for rest. Two parents or guardians will be allowed to remain in the waiting room overnight. Children are not allowed to stay overnight. The NICU Family House is equipped with chair beds, lockers, and showers for your use. As space permits, a maximum of two sleeping spaces is available to parents, guardians, and grandparents. A kitchenette area and laundry facility are also available inside the NICU Family House.

The private rooms in South are able to accommodate the baby and 2 other family members. Only two people are allowed to stay overnight. No children are allowed to stay overnight in the NICU private rooms. A private room has a private shower and bathroom.

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House is available at the Arkansas Children's for the parents of the NICU patients who live over 50 miles away. Ask the Family Services Assistant in the NICU Family House to place your name on the waiting list. The Family Services Assistant can also help you arrange other lodgings. Many local hotels offer a discount to parents of babies in the NICU.

The patients in the NICU have very little ability to fight infection. Therefore, we are very careful about protecting them from exposure. All parents, grandparents, family and friends are asked to wash their hands and arms (to the elbow). Sinks are located at the entrance to the NICU and in the area where your baby is located. For infection control and privacy issues, you, your family members and guests should remain at your baby's bedside and not visit other babies in the NICU.
Toys are welcome at your baby's bedside, but please limit them to two at a time, please. Also, the toys must be able to be wiped clean, therefore no stuffed animals. For safety reasons, rubber balloons are not allowed. Socks, booties, hats, two Mylar balloons, drawings from siblings, cards and photographs are welcome. Please be aware that while every attempt is made to protect personal items, they may be lost or broken. Heirlooms and breakable items are discouraged. Names should be written with a permanent marker on personal items and clothing. Parents must wash infant's personal clothing.
When you contact the hospital for the first time, you will be asked to select a "code word" to be used by PARENTS ONLY for information over the phone. Please do not share this word with grandparents or friends. Due to privacy laws, they should get information from you. A toll-free number is available for parents only. Parents only may receive phone calls in the waiting room (501-364-7025). Family members may leave messages for parents at this number as the unit secretary cannot take personal messages.
Cell phones are permitted with the ringer on vibrate or silence. Please clean your cell phones with antibacterial wipes provided in the Family House. Please step out of the NICU for long phone conversations. We ask that you do not use your phone for talking or texting while holding your baby. We encourage you to take photos of your baby (taking photos of other babies is not allowed). Phones located in the NICU are for staff use only. There are phones available in the NICU Family House.