The excitement for a friend or family member when they announce they are pregnant is palpable
The months and weeks pass and the anticipation grows.
And then you hear the news...
Their baby is in the NICU.
The Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
You don't always know the whys or the hows about what happened,
but it sounds pretty serious.
The normal rush up to the hospital
or over to their house to meet their new little bundle
isn't an option.
You call and try to ask what you can do,
but most times this is a very new experience for them and unexpected...
They don't even know what they need or want yet!
It is rough.
Having a baby in the NICU is one of the most difficult times in any ones life.
We created this list of 9 gift ideas for the parent/s with a baby in the NICU
to offer you some ideas on how to give them something special:
(And we can't stress enough how important this one is!)
Having a baby in the NICU is often not planned.
They are learning as they go and often times trying to fend off germs at every turn.
Offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on,
and be patient on not pushing to see them, talk to them, or to see the baby.
We know it is hard to not ask 1000 questions,
but often times being someone who listens
or is willing to sit in silence while they cry is priceless!
(This also doesn't mean there won't come a time when they just need to feel normal and need a friend to make them laugh.)
For them to read to her/him/them
or for the parents to read while sitting up/sleeping at the hospital.
Some of the greatest gifts are things you can hold on to long after something is over to look back and see how far you've come;
a book for the baby that the parents can read to them can be a great gift for them to hold onto and read to them for years to come.
Hospital food gets expensive.
Quick, easy, healthy snacks they can pack or
keep in the baby's room to eat are super helpful.
It may sound kinda corny, but driving back and forth can get expensive.
A gas card is a great way to offer financial support to them without feeling like you're actually giving money for whatever.
Having hot meals can be a luxury right after you have a baby, period.
Having a baby in the NICU is no different.
Offering to drop off some freezer meals to their house that they can throw in the crock pot in the morning and eat later that night is a great way to help NICU parent/s get some good home-cooked meals without having a time on it.
(If they are breastfeeding:
be sure to ask if they have any dietary limitations they'd like you to stick to)
This is huge!
Having older kids and then a new baby in the NICU can be so conflicting;
where and how do you go?
Babysitting can be so incredibly helpful,
especially when it is family or a family friend the older kid/s already know.
Being able to not worry about your older kids being watched
while you are with your new baby = #priceless!
Coming home to clean laundry, no dishes, a swept floor,
and wiped counters can be so heartwarming.
Don't just go over and do it (some people aren't big fans of that);
But often times offering to do a load or two of laundry
or to go over to their house and do dishes and clean up,
so they don't have to worry about it is a huge help!
(if they are breastfeeding)
Many times when baby is in the NICU the mother will be pumping milk for the most part.
This is typically not the idea/plan they had in mind before.
Milk storage bags, nipple cream, a boppy, etc
See what kinds of things the hospital isn't providing them with and offer to get them.
POSTPARTUM DOULA HOURS
The first few weeks home with a baby who has spent some time in the NICU can often be even more mentally and physically difficult than normal.
Professional services from a postpartum doula
can help ease the transition from constant care and support in the NICU
to care and support at home.
Having the support of a professional at home can make such a difference
in sleep, care, and mental well being.
We know you want to do everything you can to help support the new family
and there's definitely more,
but these ideas will get you off on the right foot
on supporting those new parents!
Jessica Anne Dill