Preemies: What is This Equipment For?

by Staff

If you have a preemie, you're probably wondering what all this equipment is and what it does. Here is a list for you to checkout and research.


This performs the same function as phototherapy lights by removing the bilirubin from your baby's blood. Your baby won't need to wear protective eye covers when lying on this blanket.

Blood Pressure Monitor

The small cuff around your baby's arm or leg measures their blood pressure. Sometimes, for continuous measurement, a tiny catheter is inserted into your baby's umbilical artery.

Cardiac Monitor

The monitor displays the heart rate of your baby, these monitors will sound an alarm if your baby's heart rate drops below 100 beats per minute or is above 200 beats per minute.

Endotracheal Tube

The ventilator allows a breath to be delivered directly to your baby's lungs. The endtracheal tube is secured by tape and goes from your baby's mouth or nose into the windpipe. The tube passes through the vocal cords so you will not be able to hear the baby cry until it is removed.

Incubator or Isolette

The incubator provides a warm and humidified environment for your baby. It will automatically warm up or cool down, according to your baby's temperature (if the baby has a skin temperature probe). The small probe on your baby's skin monitors her temperature.

Intravenous Pumps & Tubes

The IV provides nutrition and medication to your baby. The most common sites for IV's are your baby's head, hands or feet. The pump is set to administer the prescribed rate of fluid at an hourly rate.

Nasal CPAP

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This also helps your baby breath by providing small amounts of air and oxygen to your baby and by maintaining a small amount of continuous pressure in the baby's lungs.

Nasal Gastric Tube or Feeding Tube

A tube placed through the nose into the stomach to feed your baby. The nasogastric tube is commonly called an "NG tube."

Nasal Prongs

These little prongs sit inside your baby's nostrils and provide very low amounts of oxygen.


This small plastic hood covers your baby's head and helps provide a stable humidified oxygen environment for your baby.

Oxygen Saturation Monitors

This machine monitors oxygen at the skin of your baby. The oxygen measurement is different from the pulse oximeter that's why the numbers on the monitor are different. This machine can measure both oxygen and carbon dioxide. (Some babies do only Oxygen saturation, others do both)

Phototherapy Lights

These lights help to break down the bilirubin in your baby's blood. They are placed over and around your baby's incubator and your baby's eyes are covered with protective patches. Overhead for single and overhead and around for double phototheraphy.

Pulse Oximeter

This measures your baby's blood oxygen. The tiny light measures the amount of oxygen that is being carried in your baby's red blood cells and displays it on the monitor.


See Ventilators

Respiratory Monitor

This monitor displays your baby's breathing rate. It is quite common for premature babies to stop breathing for more than 20 seconds. The alarm on the monitor will sound during one of these spells.

Temperature Probe

The coated wire attached to your baby's skin measures his temperature and helps to regulate the required temperature of the isolette.

UAC (Umbilical Artery Catheter)

A small plastic tube inserted into the blood vessel in the baby's umbilicus allows fluid to be given and blood to be taken without extra needle pricks.

Ultrasound (head)

This standard test takes an ultrasound image of your baby's brain to check for areas of bleeding from weakened or broken blood vessels.

UVC (Umbilical Venous Catheter)

A small plastic tube inserted into the blood vessel in the baby's umbilicus allows blood and fluid to be taken for tests easily without extra needle pricks.

Ventilators or Respirators

These machines help your baby breath. Many premature babies have trouble breathing due to underdeveloped lungs. The ventilator/respirator can do all of your baby's breathing for them, or just part of it.

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