WakeMed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Certified for Providing Developmentally Supportive Care

That little yawn, suddenly opened hand, frown, leg extension, or grimace.

To an astute neonatal intensive care nurse, these are all subtle communications from their tiniest patients that may mean I need a short break, I am worried, I need something to brace my feet on, or I am uncomfortable.

For 35 years, babies as young as 23 weeks gestational age, weighing as little as one pound, have received the highest level of care at WakeMed. Now, WakeMed’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is one of only four in the world certified for providing developmentally supportive and family-centered care.

The Newborn Individual Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) Federation International certification is awarded to organizations that offer among other things:

  • Primary Nursing – Babies who are expected to call WakeMed home for many weeks or months are assigned two primary nurses – one for day and one for night – enabling nurses to get to know baby better and families to build close relationships with the primary caregivers.
  • Kangaroo Care – Kangaroo care is simply skin-to-skin contact with mom or dad. Early kangaroo care stabilizes baby’s heart rate, helps them maintain temperature and oxygen levels, as well as relax and sleep better, facilitating healthy growth.
  • Swaddle Baths – Swaddle baths are just that, bathing baby while swaddled in a blanket, offering comfort and resulting in a calmer, happier, more relaxed baby.
  • Cue-Based Feeding – Supporting the emerging feeding skills of a preterm infant is important for healthy growth and development. In cue-based feeding, babies are only fed when they show interest, for as long as they show interest, and as long as they have the energy.
  • Four-Handed Care – Four-handed care is literally another set of hands to offer baby emotional and physical support during procedures as simple as a diaper change.

Preterm babies’ brains and bodies are developing at a rapid pace.  At WakeMed, we are pleased to offer the best in developmentally supportive, family-centered care for the short and long-term health of babies and their families.

WakeMed’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is in the process of expanding, adding 12 additional beds for a total of 48 beds. During this expansion, 26 neonatal beds will be converted to private rooms, allowing parents to room-in and help care for their hospitalized infants. Learn more about how you can help support this expansion.

Hear and see more about WakeMed’s NIDCAP certified nursery by viewing WRAL’s recent report.


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  • Lindy Sullivan says:

    You guys were awesome and there for us every step of the way 13 years ago. Hopefully won’t need you this time around, but very glad to know you are there if we do. Thank you!
    L. Sullivan, RN

  • Kristi Rinaldo says:

    Thank you to the Wake Med Doctors & Nurses! A huge reason we are so lucky and here celebrating the little man being so healthy and happy at four years old! He was born at 27 weeks @ 2lbs 09oz. I always knew this team was extra special and I am so glad to see it being recognized!!!! Congratulations on making such a huge difference to hundreds of little lives!

  • O. Manuel says:

    You are all commended for the best quality of care you have provided when my son was there 3 years ago.Always exemplify the Wakeway and went beyond the expectation!We were so blessed to have you when we needed you the most!We appreciate you all!


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