Many nurseries do not have a specific weight criteria for discharge. Instead the baby must meet the following criteria:
Be able to keep his/her body temperature normal in an open crib
Be on complete breast and/or bottle feeds, taking in an adequate number of calories.
Be gaining weight on all breast or bottle feeds
Not have any apneas (pauses in breathing) causing slow heart rate (bradycardia) or change in color. Some nurseries send infants home on apnea monitors if they are having short self-limited apneas (no color change or severe bradycardias and not needing stimulation to breathe again).
Most babies are off oxygen when discharged, but some infants who will need oxygen for a long time are sent home on oxygen.
The average baby meets these criteria about 2 to 4 weeks before their "due date", but there are big individual differences. Hospital stays vary from a few days to many months. Infants who stay beyond their "due date" usually are infants who
were on breathing machines and oxygen the longest
were born with malformations
Get to know your baby and feel comfortable caring for him/her
become involved in your baby's care in the hospital
learn ways to comfort or settle your baby
change diapers and clothes
feed your baby as often as possible
learn to give a bath
learn to give medications that your baby will receive at home
learn any treatments that will be given at home
Identify which physician will be caring for your baby after discharge. Be sure you have an appointment shortly after discharge. Your baby may have several other appointments after discharge. Be sure to go to all of the appointments, even if your baby seems healthy.
If your baby is a boy, decide if you want him circumcised.
Inquire about immunizations. Depending on the age of your baby, some immunizations may be started before discharge. Others are given at the time of discharge. Be sure you have a record of those given.
Learn the results of the routine screening tests performed on your infant and if repeat testing is needed. Common screens are listed below. Your baby may not have all of these.
Neonatal Screen. All babies have blood tests to look for the presence of certain diseases. States vary regarding the number and types of diseases screened. Sick preterm infants often have "false positive" results and the test may need to be repeated when the infant is older and healthier.
Learn baby cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This is appropriate for all parents, not just parents of preemies. Most hospitals or communities have such instruction. If yours does not, call the American Heart Association for more information.
If your infant is going home on an apnea monitor, complete monitor training. Learn the important contact numbers for problems or emergencies.
If your infant is going home on oxygen, be sure you feel comfortable working all of the equipment that you will use at home and when going out. Learn how to secure the nasal cannula. Learn the important contact numbers for problems or emergencies.
Ask for a copy of your baby's discharge summary, so you will have it in the future if problems develop or if you move.