Small Baby Unit

The Small Baby Unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles delivers specialized care to some of our most fragile patients. Our services are for infants born very preterm (between 28 and 32 weeks) and extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks).

Many premature babies have complex medical needs requiring advanced treatments that are not widely available. We provide gold-standard care and monitoring that helps more babies thrive.

Small Baby Unit: Why Choose Us

The Small Baby Unit is part of the nationally recognized Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU). A dedicated team with special training uses research-based methods to deliver the best available care.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Top honors: CHLA consistently ranks among the best children’s hospitals nationwide and as a top hospital for neonatal care, according to U.S. News & World Report. This distinction means we exceed national care standards for sick and premature infants.
  • Team approach: Research shows that small babies who receive care from a specialized team have better outcomes. At CHLA, very and extremely preterm infants receive coordinated services from a multidisciplinary team, which includes neonatologists, nurses, respiratory care practitioners, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Meet our team.
  • Patient- and family-centered services: Having a premature baby who is also sick can come as quite a shock. Our compassionate team is here for you to provide the support and services you need. Social workers connect you with resources and offer emotional support that make your family’s stay a little less stressful.
  • Access to advanced therapies: CHLA is capable of treating any condition your baby may have. If heart catheterization is necessary, we are able to do it in the NICCU. Performing these procedures at the bedside helps your baby stay safe and comfortable while receiving lifesaving care.
  • Leadership: CHLA is a proud member of the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Consortium. This nationwide collaboration of neonatal care providers evaluates care methods to improve services and outcomes for extremely preterm infants.

About Our Small Baby Unit and Services

The Small Baby Unit is in a strategic area of our NICCU that’s quiet and enables quick access by our expert team. Your baby stays in a room with space for a parent to stay the night. Lights in patient rooms and nearby hallways stay dim and the environment is as quiet as possible.

We make every effort to reduce the frequency with which we disturb your infant, allowing more time for sleeping and growing. If circumstances require immediate attention, we are at your baby’s bedside in seconds.

Doctors, nurses and therapists work together to deliver specialized, around-the-clock care that may include:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids or medication: Providing hydration, nutrition and medications
  • Positioning: Using supportive devices to keep the hips, shoulders and head in alignment to protect your baby’s ability to speak and walk
  • Skincare: Taking extra care to avoid damaging your baby’s delicate skin
  • Turning: Gently turning your baby using specific techniques that protect neurological development
  • Respiratory support: Meeting your little one’s current breathing needs while preserving future lung health

Evidence-Based Positive Sensory Exposure for Small Babies

Small babies have difficulty tolerating sensory input, even a loved one’s touch. But this type of stimulation can help promote your infant’s development. We teach you special techniques for engaging your baby in meaningful interactions through gentle stimulation.

We use the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program’s evidence-based guidelines for positive stimulation. We tailor recommendations week-by-week enabling you to be there to provide gentle touch techniques to help comfort your baby.

After a Small Baby Unit Stay: What to Expect

After discharge, some babies are well enough to go home. Others need additional inpatient care either at CHLA or in a facility close to home.

It’s natural to be nervous about leaving the Small Baby Unit and taking care of your baby. Our team provides education throughout your baby’s stay so you feel more confident. We teach you how to perform daily tasks like feeding and putting your baby to sleep and what to do if there is an emergency.

We continue seeing babies after they graduate from the Small Baby Unit. Our Newborn Follow-up Program provides comprehensive care after discharge to evaluate your baby’s development. If needed, we provide referrals to early intervention services such as physical therapy or occupational therapy to support your baby's healthy growth. Babies with lung conditions may also receive care in our Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Clinic.

Contact Us

Learn more about services and support for small babies by calling us at 323-361-5939.

Information for referring doctors

We welcome referrals from community doctors and look forward to caring for your patient. Contact us at 888-631-2452