Skip to Main Content

Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery

UCSF is a national leader in newborn care. Our children's hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland each have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) devoted to providing the most advanced care available to critically ill infants. As certified level IV regional NICUs, they both are capable of providing all levels of newborn care, from basic to most intensive, and draw patients from across the region. Our San Francisco location, the William H. Tooley Intensive Care Nursery, was among the first NICUs in the world.

Through the years, our doctors have pioneered a range of diagnostic techniques and treatments for the sickest, smallest, most fragile babies. Recently, we became the first hospital in Northern California to offer rapid whole genome sequencing – the latest and most comprehensive genetic test available – for newborns with suspected genetic disorders.

Who needs a NICU?

The NICU is for babies who need specialized around-the-clock care. Our patients include preemies, infants with serious birth defects, and newborns awaiting or recovering from surgery.

Continue Reading

Who will be caring for my child?

Our NICU is staffed by:

  • Doctors and nurse practitioners who specialize in newborn care
  • Nurses trained in other specialties
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Social workers
  • Developmental therapists

Our team members work closely with each other, and with the specialists treating each infant's particular condition, to provide care whose effects last well beyond the initial treatment and recovery period. In Oakland, our NICU team has particular expertise in caring for newborns with bronchopulmonary dysplasia and severe gastrointestinal conditions.

More than medicine

We recognize the importance of tending to our patients' and their families' emotional needs. We encourage parents to spend as much time with their babies as possible. Siblings also are welcome to visit after they're screened by our unit services coordinator.

Because the NICU is an intense environment, we have developmental specialists on hand who work to reduce the stress of illness or prematurity for each infant in our care. They teach parents how to hold and touch a medically fragile infant and help them understand their baby's signals and cues.

To support breastfeeding mothers, board-certified lactation consultants are available seven days a week at our San Francisco nursery. At our Oakland NICU, lactation support is provided by doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and registered dietitians.

Other services for families with babies in our NICUs include spiritual care, a parent support group and a social worker.


What sets us apart

Expert care for fragile newborns

Our team of experienced neonatal specialists helps prepare babies born with complex conditions for their homecoming.

Our locations (2)

    Special programs

    Start reading

    Whole Genome Sequencing Program

    Raid whole genome sequencing can quickly detect almost any genetic issue in a fetus or baby. It’s the most comprehensive genetic test available.

    Start reading

    Our team

    Awards & recognition

    • Top 10 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)

    pediatric-cardiac-intensive-care-unit-320x320-2x 2

    Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    San Francisco / Oakland

    neurological-neonatal-intensive-care-unit-320x320-2x 2

    Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)

    Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)

    San Francisco / Oakland

    cardiology-clinic-320x320-2x 7

    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

    Saving future lives

    500+ UCSF investigators are researching cures for hundreds of childhood and adult diseases.