NICU Care team with nurses and doctors

Your Baby’s Care Team in the NICU

During your baby’s stay in the NICU, he or she will be cared for by a team of experts who work together to make sure that your baby (and you) gets the best care possible. Though you may only meet a few of these NICU specialists (depending on your baby’s length of stay), knowing and understanding the role of these dedicated professionals may assist you with where to direct any questions about your baby’s care.


This is a pediatrician specializing in treating newborns, particularly those who had a complex or high-risk birth or other early medical challenges. They are responsible for diagnosing the baby and making all the decisions about their treatment plan.

Neonatal Fellow:

This is a pediatrician who has completed their residency in pediatrics and is now enrolled in a 3-year program to become a neonatologist. They work closely with the attending neonatologist.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP):

An NNP is a nurse with extra training to care for newborns. Under the direction of a neonatologist or pediatrician, NNPs can examine, monitor, and treat patients. They can also order medications and perform certain procedures.

Neonatal Nurse:

Likely the person you will see most frequently, a neonatal nurse is responsible for the daily care and bedside monitoring of your child. They give medications, keep track of vital signs (temperature, breathing, and heart rate), monitor medical equipment, and make sure your baby is comfortable. They can guide and help you adjust to your new parenting role in the NICU.

Respiratory Therapist:

This is a specialized healthcare practitioner trained in critical care who cares for patients who have trouble breathing. Working under the supervision of a neonatologist, they may take and analyze blood gases and monitor oxygen levels. They also take care of any breathing equipment your baby may need.

Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist:

These healthcare professionals help to build and improve movement in the body to help keep your baby’s muscles, joints, and nerves growing in a healthy way.

Social Worker:

A social worker helps coordinate services and connect families with community resources to aid with emotional, physical, and financial support.

Case Manager:

A case manager monitors babies’ stay in the NICU. They work closely with the rest of the care team and insurance companies to ensure quality care, both during hospitalization and after discharge home.

Lactation Consultant:

A lactation consultant is a nurse or other member of the care team who helps mothers breastfeed their babies or supply breast milk to their babies.

Speech-language Pathologist:

This is a therapist who helps babies with feeding or swallowing problems.

Fellows, Medical Residents, and Medical Students:

These are doctors-in-training at different levels of study.

Want to understand what types of terms you may hear
when your child is in the NICU?