The 54-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego provides Level 4 care, the highest designation available by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Our NICU is a major referral center for the most critically ill newborns, many of whom suffer from severe heart and lung conditions or are born extremely premature. Expert care is provided by the Neonatology Division of Rady Children’s Specialists of San Diego.

best-childrens-hospitals-neonatologyFor the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks our Neonatology program among the nation’s best in its “Best Children’s Hospitals” edition.


Designed for the best possible care and comfort, our NICU has homelike private and semi-private rooms to help parents bond with their newborns. The rooms are equipped with specially designed chairs, which enable all our infants to have skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad.

Rady Children’s also operates Level 2 NICUs at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta (read the news release), a Level 3 NICU at Palomar Medical Center and provides services (on site and on a consultative basis) to other hospitals throughout San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties, across the nation and as far away as Saipan.

Additionally, our physicians staff the NICU at UC San Diego Medical Center.

Division Achievements:

  • Has the only Level 4 NICU serving San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.
  • Has the only Neuro-NICU Program in Southern California and one of only 10 such programs in the country. Read the story in U-T San Diego.
  • Is among the first in the nation to purchase “SimBaby,” an amazingly realistic doll (about the size of a 6 month old) that can be used to simulate infant emergencies. (Watch the video and read our news release.)  We now have a second simulation doll that is newborn size.
  • Has one of the largest neonatal transport services in California, transporting infants throughout Southern California and from Hawaii.
  • Has received the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s Center of Excellence Award — for the sixth consecutive year — for our ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) program. ECMO is a highly advanced life-support system for infants with life-threatening heart or lung problems.
  • Has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia survival rate that remains higher than the published best-practice rate.
  • Has ventilator-associated and bloodstream infections that remain below the published benchmark rate.

Video: Every little one gets a welcome gift

Related Information

In the News

Dr. Gail Knight Inspires as First African-American Woman Chief of Staff at Rady Children’s Hospital,

Support Our Program

One hundred percent of your tax-deductible gift benefits Rady Children’s. To make a donation, click here and select “Neonatology (NICU)” from the drop-down menu.