NICU Standard 6: Minimum Space, Clearance, and Privacy Requirements for the Infant Space

Each infant space shall contain a minimum of 150 square feet (14 square meters) of clear floor space, excluding handwashing stations, columns, and aisles (see Glossary). Within this space, there shall be sufficient furnishing to allow a parent to stay seated, reclining, or fully recumbent at the bedside. There shall be an aisle adjacent to each infant space with a minimum width of 4 feet (1.2 meters) in multiple bed rooms. When single infant rooms or fixed cubicle partitions are utilized in the design, there shall be an adjacent aisle of not less than 8 feet (2.4 meters) in clear and unobstructed width to permit passage of equipment and personnel. 

Multiple bed rooms shall have a minimum of 8 feet (2.4 meters) between infant beds. There shall be provision for visual privacy for each bed, and the design shall support speech privacy at a distance of 12 feet (3.6 meters).  

Interpretation: These numbers are minimums and often need to be increased to reflect the complexity of care rendered, bedside space needed for parenting and family involvement in care, and privacy for families.

The width of aisles in multiple bed rooms should allow for easy movement of all equipment that might be brought to the infant's bedside, as well as easy access for a maternal bed. The width of the corridors or aisles outside single infant rooms or infant spaces designed with permanent cubicle partitions should allow for simultaneous passage of two such items as mandated by state and federal architectural and fire codes.

The need for visual and acoustic privacy for infants and families should be addressed not only in design of each bed space, but also in the overall unit design—for example, by minimizing traffic flow past each bed.

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