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Gift Ideas for NICU Babies

Updated on August 11, 2014

Suggested Gifts for a NICU Baby

Choosing a gift for a NICU baby or premature baby in the NICU can be a bit challenging. Often family and friends do not know whether they should get a present for the NICU baby or NICU parents or wait to see what happens.

This was the case with one of my friends, she didn't want to send anything until she knew my daughter would be alright. While I could appreciate the sentiments of being practical with a wait and see approach, it would have been nice to have a token gift, as a vote of support and hope that our baby would survive.

Former NICU Mother, Kelby Carr offers these words of wisdom when it comes to buying a gift for a baby in the NICU, "Don't let the fact that a baby is premature or in the NICU stop you from buying a gift, either for the baby of a gift for the mom of a NICU baby. No matter how perilous the situation is, the parents and baby will appreciate a gift. It could be the sliver of joyfulness they really badly need."

JessieLeigh of Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles, shares her advice for confused family and friends. Instead of being concerned that the baby might die at any time, "Celebrate the joy with the new mom and dad. Tell them how beautiful their child is. Comment on her precious fingers and toes. Behave like you would have had had he or she been born full term."

We received an abundance of gifts when my first daughter was born, a normal birth and very few for my NICU daughter. My youngest is now old enough to realize there are very few birth gifts that we have for her, no special hand-crochet blankets and stuffed animals. My advise would be to send a gift to the NICU Parent or NICU baby, to show your love and support.

Image: Adapted from Chobi Capeta's Heart Bag. Royalty Free Use.

Gift Ideas for NICU Babies

These gift ideas for NICU babies have been compiled from several different sources on the Internet as well as articles from the NICU Parent Support Blog and Type-A Mom website. The sources are listed under the links below.

  1. A Stuffed Animal for the NICU baby.
  2. A Soothing Baby CD for the NICU baby to listen to and enjoy.
  3. A Baby Book to read to the NICU baby.
  4. A Prayer or Blessing for the NICU baby's isolette or pod.
  5. A Cuddly Blanket or Sleepsack for the NICU baby.
  6. A Special NICU Baby or Preemie Outfit.
  7. A NICU Baby Basket filled with Gifts for the NICU Baby and NICU Parents.
  8. A Zaky Hand to keep the NICU baby company.
  9. A NICU Graduate Gift for the NICU Grad.

Comfort Silkie Security Blankets on Amazon

This security blanket is recommended by physicians, doulas and child psychologists. Used in NICUs and Pediatric Units for comforting infants, babies and children.

Lilac Chocolate Comfort Silkie Original Security Blanket. Soft Flannel & Silkie Satin.
Lilac Chocolate Comfort Silkie Original Security Blanket. Soft Flannel & Silkie Satin.
These silkie security blankets are perfect comforting blankets, soft, silky and small enough for little hands. Measure 18 by 14 inches

Making Life Easier for Those Living in the NICU

Image: Sono Tamaki. NICU Baby. Creative Commons License.

A Stuffed Animal

Soft Animal Friends for NICU Babies

Stuffed animals, teddy bears, little beanie babies are almost synonymous with babies.

Like security blankets, stuffed animals are sources of comfort for the NICU baby. A soft animal can even become a companion or friend for the NICU baby.

We assembled a collection of animal friends to keep my daughter company in the NICU. One of the first gifts that my NICU daughter received was a little stuffed teddy bear with the logo of the NICU transport team. One of the first gifts we purchased for her was a bright little stuffed bird from the gift shop as a gift from her big sister.

We also brought a Anne Geddes sleeping Baby Hedgehog Doll to keep her company. The hedgehog was a gift from one of my sisters from Christmas.

Sleep Sheep available on Amazon

Sleep Sheep Cloud B

Cloud b Sleep Sheep On The Go Travel Sound Soother
Cloud b Sleep Sheep On The Go Travel Sound Soother
The soft, adorable award-winning Sleep Sheep from Cloud b makes for a perfect NICU baby gift. The Sleep Sheep helps to create a tranquil environment using four soothing nature sounds, including gentle stream, spring showers, ocean waves and harmonious whale sounds. It plays for 23 or 45 minutes, then shuts off automatically. The Sleep Sheep also includes a volume control.

A Soothing Baby CD

Music in the NICU

Research is showing that playing music in the NICU, or utilizing Music therapy, may be another way to positively alter the environment of NICU premature babies and sick newborns. Many NICU's are including music in their what they offer for NICU babies. Many studies have shown that music has the ability to soothe and nurture the NICU baby.

In addition, music is good for everyone in the NICU. A 2000 article published in JAMA showed that playing music in the neonatal intensive care units can also play a role in holding down the noise level in the NICU's.

It was good to know there is research behind something I had intuitively done for my own daughter. We brought in music on a CD with little headphones for her to listen to while in the NICU and asked the nurses to play the music while we were gone.

Music was one of the ways that I was able to help my daughter while she was in the NICU.

Image: Sanja Gjenero. Music Note. Royalty Free Use.

Music for NICU Babies on Amazon

This Music Used for NICU Newborns list on Amazon of carefully selected CD titles are ones that have been used in NICU music studies on newborns or are other favorite music selections for NICU newborns.

A few additional titles were added from our list of favorites.

Transitions: Soothing Music for Crying Infants(Transitions Music)
Transitions: Soothing Music for Crying Infants(Transitions Music)
This music was specifically developed to help soothe crying infants. It has been clinically proven to increase oxygen levels of premature babies.
Lullaby Favorites
Lullaby Favorites
One of our favorite CD's to play before bed that includes many of the classic lullabies.
Dream A Little Dream (Transitions Music)
Dream A Little Dream (Transitions Music)
Another from the Transitions series. Recommended by one Amazon user who found it at the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne, Australia when her daughter was undergoing heart surgery.

A Baby Book

Read a Book to Your NICU Baby

One gift you can give to the NICU Parents that they can use with their NICU baby is a book that they can read.

Studies have shown that NICU babies recognize their parents voices and their parents voices can be a great source of comfort. NICU babies listening to their parents reading have improved oxygen uptake (better breathing) and more regular heartbeats (or heart rates).

Reading a book to a NICU baby can also help the parents to focus on something other than the monitors, alarms and procedures. Research has also shown that children who are read to develop better.

The March of Dimes recommends that parents and friends looks for books:

  • With pictures in bright contrasting colors
  • That are made of cardboard or cloth for durability
  • With pictures of other babies' faces
Reading a favorite baby book to their NICU baby is a way for NICU Parents to bond and share something that they can continue long after the NICU.

Image: L. Emerson. Reading Statue. Royalty Free Use.

Favorite Baby Books on Amazon

You can start reading to or humming to your baby even while he or she is in the NICU.

Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon is a childhood classic.
Guess How Much I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You
Another classic, with a loving message - Guess How Much I Love You
I Love You As Much...
I Love You As Much...
Start reading to your baby how much you love him or her I Love You As Much

A Prayer or Blessing

A Special Healing Blessing

Many NICU Parents find a great deal of comfort in having a special healing blessing or NICU prayer displayed on the isolette or pod where their baby is staying.

This Special Healing Blessing was one that we wrote for my youngest when she was in the hospital and placed above her isolette. You can read a copy of the blessing that we wrote for her posted on the Journey of Hearts Website as A Healing Blessing. This blessing is available as a PDF File for those who sign up to get the Free NICU eBook.

There are other prayers for preemies that I have written about in blog post for the NICU Parent Support Blog. These prayers for preemies or premature babies can be printed out and hung up in the NICU.

For parents, family or friends who would like to try writing their own prayer or blessing, a blog post on how to write a prayer poem can provide a place to get started.

A Cuddly Blanket or Sleepsack

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

A Cuddly, Security Blanket

Most parents can remember having their own cuddly, security blanket as a child. Think of the Peanuts character Linus and how attached he is to his security blanket.

A cuddly, security blanket, swaddle me or sleepsack is another very useful gift for a NICU baby. These can be used to wrap up babies or swaddle and help then feel more comforted and secure. Pediatricians are recommending swaddling as a method to soothe and comfort newborns. Studies have shown that swaddling helps babies to sleep better in addition to providing a comforting "hug."

JessieLeigh of Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles recommends waffle-weave blankets as the best one for swaddling her tiny preemie. The Preemie World recommends the HALO SleepSack on their checklist of gift suggestions for NICU babies.

Linus and Blanket Sticker available on Amazon

Organic Swaddling Blankets

Touched by Nature Unisex Baby Organic Cotton Swaddle, Receiving and Multi-purpose Blanket, White, One Size
Touched by Nature Unisex Baby Organic Cotton Swaddle, Receiving and Multi-purpose Blanket, White, One Size
Organic receiving blankets are thoughtful eco-friendly gifts. These organic blankets are 100% certified organic and eco-friendly. Choose from Pink, Blue or White

Linus Security Blanket on eBay

A larger Linus Security Blanket for cuddling. Use this to cuddle with your baby together.

A Special NICU Outfit or Swaddling Sack

Find or Make Preemie Clothes for Your NICU Baby

For parents of premature babies, finding clothes or having someone make clothes in premature baby sizes can be very helpful and comforting to the NICU parents. Crafty family members or friends can find preemie patterns and knit or crochet hats to help keep the NICU baby warm (according to an article Pediatrics an infant can lose 85% of the total heat loss is through the face and head).

With a bit of looking preemie clothes can be found in stories specializing in premature babies.

Naomi of thulathula on Etsy was inspired by the birth of her own preemie son, Aiden to create a line of clothes for premature babies. She offers the following tips from her own experience on dressing the premature baby.

  • Cotton works best for the smaller babies since their skin is more sensitive. Cotton is soft and not scratchy.
  • Chose designs that open out flat, so you don't have to put clothes over the head.
  • NICU suits and outfits should have openings at the side or front for extra leads, tubing, lines, that your baby will have.
  • Hats help to regulate heat.
A gift of clothes in the right size for a premature baby will be appreciated by NICU parents, rather than receiving newborn clothes that they will have to wait for some time before wearing.

Swaddling Set available on Amazon

Preemie Clothes on Amazon

Perfect gift set for the Preemie/ The set includes a 100% Cotton wearable blanket (Halo Sack), long sleeve footed onesie, long sleeved bodysuit and matching hat.

HALO 4-Piece Cotton Layette and Swaddle Set
HALO 4-Piece Cotton Layette and Swaddle Set
A blue Layette and Swaddle set in preemie sizes.

SwaddleMe Blanket on Amazon

The SwaddleMe blanket provides a simple way to swaddle with soft fabric wings that hug your baby close. The design also includes a leg pouch at the bottom for quick diaper changes while leaving baby comfortably swaddled on top. More colors available on Amazon.

HALO SleepSack Wearable Blankets on Amazon

The HALO SleepSack wearable blanket was designed to replace loose bedding in the crib that can cover your baby's face and interfere with breathing. It is being touted as the safer way for your baby to sleep.

More colors available on Amazon.

Gifts Make the NICU a Bit Brighter

Image: Chris Sternal-Johnson. The NICU Pod. Creative Commons License.

A NICU Baby Basket

Ideas for a NICU Baby Gift Basket

When selecting a gift, many people like to be able to customize their own NICU baby gift basket. Start by selecting a special basket that can be reused again and then add in a stuffed animal, special books, music, Zaky hand, blanket or swaddling.

Other very helpful things that can be included in a NICU baby gift basket are helpful and practical items for the parents, like gift cards for gas or meals. Take a look at the list below.

There are places online where you can order a NICU baby basket. Sometimes the hospitals may have options for purchasing a NICU baby basket.

Wicker Basket, Transitions CD, Hush Little Baby Book and Stuffed Hippo Toy all available on Amazon.

What to Put into a NICU Baby Basket

When planning a NICU Baby Basket, think of items that will sooth and support the NICU Baby and parents. Here are just a list of suggestions with helpful gifts for both NICU parents and NICU babies.

  • NICU Babies

    • A Stuffed Animal

    A Zaky Hand

    A Prayer or Blessing

    A Soothing Baby CD

    A Baby Book

    A Cuddly Blanket, Sleepsack or swaddling blanket

    A Special NICU Baby or Preemie Outfit

NICU ParentsGift cards for meals.Snacks that can be taken into the NICU. (Often energy dense foods like trail mix).Money or tickets to cover parking fees.A journal to write down their experiences.Hand cream to help hands from chapping.A camera so they can take pictures.A helpful book for the parents about the NICUA book to they can read to their NICU baby.

Wicker Baby Basket on Amazon

Package up your special gift in a reusable wicker basket. The basket can be used in the nursery after the gift has been opened.

Lambs & Ivy Basket, White
Lambs & Ivy Basket, White
This white Lambs & Ivy basket will work with any of the Lambs & Ivy liners. Measures 10 by 8 inches

A Zaky Hand

Using a Zaky Hand with a NICU Baby

One of the hardest things for me in having a NICU baby was not being able to stay with her and watch over her 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I discovered the Zaky hand after our time in the NICU and knew it would have been something we would have used when my youngest was in the NICU.

The Zaky hand is one answer to the question "What can I do to support my NICU baby?" With the Zaky I would have felt that we were leaving something with her to comfort her when we were not around.

Designed by former NICU parent, Dr. Yamile Jackson after her own NICU experience with her son Zachary in 2001, the Zaky provides comfort and support for NICU babies. This ergodynamic hand pillow is a way to simulate mother's or father's hand even when they are not around.

Zaky Hand in Pink available at Nurtured by Design

Nurtured by Design Website

Home of the Zaky and Kangaroo Zak.

A NICU Graduate Gift

Gifts for NICU Parents to Give their NICU Graduate(s)

One of the most exciting gift for a NICU parent to be able to receive, is one for their NICU graduate.

This graduation gift helps signify that their time in the NICU is over and their baby is finally coming home.

Gifts for the NICU graduate may range from practical books to t-shirts and onesies with "NICU Graduate" or Parent of a NICU Grad on them.

Image: NICU Grad Cap. Modified Microsoft Clipart.

Benefiting the March of Dimes

This lens benefits the March of Dimes, an organization working to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

What gifts suggestions do you have for NICU Babies?

Reader Feedback on NICU Baby Gifts

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    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @shay-marie: It is never too late to express your wishes. I know I had several friends not wanting to give us anything when my daughter was in the NICU for fear that we'd lose her, who then didn't give us anything either once we were home. Feeling their support would have meant the world to me, much more than any gift.

    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      I wish I had seen this article a few months ago! Some good friends of mine had a 3 month premature baby recently, and things were rough for awhile. I don't live in their city, and I had no idea what the proper protocol was for gift giving. I didn't want to give a gift, only to have them lose the baby and have things around that remind them of their child.

      I ended up visiting them once they got to bring their baby home (and I gave them a gift then), but I really wish I could go back in time and give them at least a small present while their baby was in the NICU. It hadn't even occurred to me that I could give a gift to the mom/dad to ease their hearts. Thank you for this fantastic article!

    • reginaaj2gerica profile image


      8 years ago

      I am a NICU parent and grandparent and I wish i'd known about squidoo when I or my daughter had a child in NICU. There are some great gift ideas and tips for parents with NICU babies.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      @Sadheeskumar: Congratulations on your baby. I hope he was not in the NICU.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      super lens. I think this is correct time to read this information my wife blessed boy baby 4 months back.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      @ResearchAddict: The lens was written from experience, with a list of things we could have used while in the NICU with our youngest.

    • ResearchAddict profile image


      8 years ago

      What a thoughtful lens! Great job!

    • SewingMama profile image


      9 years ago

      AWESOME lens! Very thorough. I'll be referencing this often, thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful idea to create a lens with gift ideas for NICU babies! :)

    • profile image

      sarahrk lm 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for some great ideas.


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