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Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery

UCSF is a national leader in the field of neonatal care. Each of our locations has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) devoted to providing the most advanced available care to critically ill newborns and infants. Our San Francisco NICU, the William H. Tooley Intensive Care Nursery, established in 1964, was one of the first of its kind in the world, and our doctors have pioneered a range of diagnostic techniques, treatments and methods for care of the sickest, smallest, most fragile of babies. As a certified regional NICU, the San Francisco nursery provides all levels of newborn intensive care. Our Oakland location is the only Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the East Bay and also serves patients from across the region.

Our patients include babies born prematurely or with life-threatening birth defects, such as heart and lung problems, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders and other conditions requiring advanced life support, as well as newborns awaiting or recovering from surgery. The NICU is staffed by doctors and nurse practitioners who are specialists in newborn care, along with nurses in other specialties, respiratory therapists, social workers and developmental therapists – all working together to provide care that lasts beyond the initial intervention and recovery period. We also collaborate closely with the specialists treating each infant's particular condition. In Oakland, we have multi-disciplinary teams with expertise in the care of newborns with severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and severe gastrointestinal conditions.

In addition to our emphasis on leading-edge medicine, we recognize the importance of tending to our patients' and their families' emotional and psychological needs. We encourage parents to spend as much time with their baby as possible, and we welcome visits from siblings after they've been screened by our unit services coordinator. Because the NICU is an advanced, high-tech, medically intense environment, developmental specialists team with physicians, nurses and other care providers to reduce the stress of illness or prematurity on each infant in our care. Our developmental specialists also work with parents to teach them how to hold and touch a medically fragile infant and to help them understand a premature or ill baby's signals and cues. To support breastfeeding mothers, board-certified lactation consultants are available seven days a week at our San Francisco ICN. At our Oakland NICU, physicians, nurses, occupational therapists and registered dietitians provide lactation support as needed. Other services for families include spiritual care, a parent support group and a social worker. 

Our locations (2)

    Our team

    Awards & recognition

    • Best in California and No. 5 in the nation for neonatology

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    Recommended reading


    Feeding Difficulties

    Premature babies can experience feeding difficulties. But they are often temporary. Learn more about the causes and specialized care we deliver.


    Intensive Care Nursery Glossary

    Our glossary explains the terms we use in the intensive care nursery in language that's easy to understand. Learn about chest tubes, respirators and more.


    Intensive Care Nursery Parents' Guide

    Is your baby in the intensive care nursery? Our guide helps you take an active role in your child's care, know what to expect and access support services.


    Intensive Care Nursery Team

    When your baby stays in the intensive care nursery, they receive care from a team that includes doctors, nurses and many other experts. Learn more.

    Patient Transport: A Parent's Guide

    Our transport service provides high-level care on the way to our hospitals. Find out what to expect and how you can help ensure a smooth transport.

    Related clinics (3)

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    Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    San Francisco / Oakland

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    Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)

    Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)

    San Francisco / Oakland

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    NICU Follow-Up Clinic

    NICU Follow-Up Clinic

    San Francisco / Oakland / Eureka / Fremont / Greenbrae / Modesto / Santa...

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.


    Gentle Hands Program

    We help parents of medically fragile infants bond with their babies via special techniques for soothing, holding and bathing their child. Learn more.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Our research initiatives

    • ucsf-division-of-neonatology-research-2x

      UCSF Division of Neonatology Research

    Smell the roses

    Wander outside into our Butterfly Garden in Oakland and our healing gardens at Mission Bay.