The 53-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.

For the ninth 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 Encinitas, Scripps Memorial Hospital La JollaScripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, along with a Level 3 NICU at Palomar Medical Center (temporarily closed as of Dec. 1, 2016). Additionally, we provide 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. Our physicians staff the NICUs at Pomerado Hospital and UC San Diego Medical Center.

Division Achievements:

  • Only Level 4 NICU serving San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.
  • Leading Neuro-NICU Program in Southern California and throughout the country.
  • State-of-the-art telemedicine robots on site for patient consultations, enabling faster diagnoses and treatment decisions.
  • 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.
  • One of the largest neonatal transport services in California, transporting infants throughout Southern California and from Hawaii.
  • Recipient of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s Center of Excellence Award for our ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) program. ECMO is a highly advanced life-support system used on infants with life-threatening heart or lung problems.
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia survival rate that remains higher than the published best-practice rate.
  • Ventilator-associated and bloodstream infections that remain below the published benchmark rate.

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Video: Learn about our innovative Neonatology program