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Gift Ideas for NICU Parents

Updated on August 2, 2013

Suggested Gifts for the NICU Parent

For family, friends and colleagues who want to get the NICU parents something, choosing a helpful and meaningful gift for the NICU Parent can be a bit challenging.

Many of the typical baby gifts one would normally get for new parents or a new baby, do not work well when the baby is spending time in the NICU instead of going home. Other gifts, like the gift of time and presence can be very helpful for the NICU parent in coping with a NICU admission.

Getting a gift for NICU parents is still important, since their dreams of bringing home a beautiful baby soon after delivery have been postponed and are now living with the reality of a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit.

This lens offers many suggestions for gifts that are both useful and helpful for helping NICU Parents make it through their NICU experience.

For those interested in buying something for the NICU baby, there is an accompanying lens on Gifts for NICU Babies that has specific gifts just for NICU babies.

Pink Gift Box and Sanja Gjenero's Blue Bag both Royalty Free Use, with NICU Parent Support Site Hand and Microsoft pacifier.

Image by Clarita
Image by Clarita

Gift Ideas for NICU Parents

These gift ideas for NICU parents have been compiled from several different sources on the Internet (listed under the links in the next section).

Some of these gifts cost money, others are just the gift of your time.

The gift ideas for NICU parents have been divided into gifts of presence, gifts that are practical and gifts that are presents.

Plastic Flowers by Clarita. Morgue File License.

Gifts of Presence, Practical Suggestions and Presents

  • Presence

    • Keeping the NICU Parents in one's thoughts and prayers.
    • Being a sympathetic ear and listening to the NICU Parents story or a strong shoulder to cry upon.
    • Helping to run errands and maintaining the house while they are in the NICU.
  • Practical

    • Giving meals or gift cards for meals.
    • Sending snacks that can be taken into the NICU. (Often energy dense foods like trail mix).
    • Giving money or tickets to cover parking fees.
    • Helping set up a CarePages or Caring Bridge website for updates.
  • Presents

    • Giving them a journal to write down their experiences.
    • Sending hand cream to help hands that are washed many times to keep from chapping.
    • Giving or loaning a camera so they can take pictures (and money if needed to help with developing the pictures.
    • Finding a helpful book for the parents about the NICU, or one that they can read to their NICU baby.
    • Giving something that will help them to unwind, like a massage or ingredients for a soothing bath.
    • Giving silk flowers instead of fresh flowers, since they will last longer.

My Favorite Gifts for NICU Parents

A collection of gift ideas that will help the NICU parent during their time in the intensive care unit.

Butterflies Journal (Notebook, Diary)
Butterflies Journal (Notebook, Diary)

Keep track of your thoughts and/or your baby's progress in this beautiful journal.

 
DreamTime Cozy Comfort Spa Blanket, Lavender Plush
DreamTime Cozy Comfort Spa Blanket, Lavender Plush

Surround yourself in a cozy spa blanket during those few moments when you get a chance to rest.

 
The Littlest Peanut: A Journal Milestone Babybook for Preemies
The Littlest Peanut: A Journal Milestone Babybook for Preemies

A keepsake journal to help track of all of the baby's milestones, written by a preemie parent.

 

Gift of Time and Presence

Perhaps the two most important things you can do to support the NICU Parents as a family member or friend are to give them the gift of time by listening to their story and giving them the gift of your presence to just be.

Listening

Gifting a grieving NICU parent the gift of your time and your presence can be an invaluable gift. The ability to sit and listen their NICU story can be a great source of comfort. Sometimes all a parent may needs is someone who will truly and emphatically listen to their NICU story.

Really listening involves being present for the person, not interrupting and staying connected and focused on what he or she is saying. Listening communicates respect, caring and empathy in a way that few other gifts can.

Being at a time of crisis

Simply sitting and being a witness to the NICU Parent's story, stress and anxiety can help provide invaluable support for a overwhelmed parent. Spending a few quiet moments in silence, holding a hand can be a very effective way to convey your support and caring.

A gift of presence during a difficult time, will be a gift that most NICU parents will remember and cherish.

Image: Matt Hains. Listening in at the Coffee Shop. Royalty Free Use.

Be sure to still Buy a Gift for the NICU Parent

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.

Kelby Carr

Former NICU Mother

Living with a Baby in the NICU

Image: Benjamin Earwicker. All Hooked Up 2. Royalty Free Use.

Supportive People Life's Greatest Gift

I can't even tell you how many people said absolutely nothing to me those first few weeks because...they expected by daughter to 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.

Supportive, positive people are some of life's greatest gifts.

JessieLeigh

Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles

A Gift of Time and Presence

A Circle of Healing

Creating a Circle of Healing in the NICU

Within days after the birth of my youngest daughter and her unexpected NICU admission, thanks to the connection power of the Internet, we were able to quickly contact friends and family to notify them of what had happened.

Via phone calls and e-mail messages we tapped into the healing powers to create a circle of positive thoughts and energies from friends and family around the United States and around the world. We asked everyone to hold our daughter in their thoughts, to keep positive thoughts and prayers to mentally aid in her healing process and strengthen the Circle of Healing around her.

I truly believe that having so many people hold our daughter in their hearts, minds and souls, mentally aided in her healing process. We were blessed with the outcome. The Circle of Healing we created for her helped keep her safe and protected until she was strong enough to be discharged from the hospital.

Circle of Healing Pin available at The Violet Heart Collection

A CarePage or Caring Bridge Page

Using CarePages and Caring Bridge in the NICU

Two very helpful online free resources that can be useful for helping NICU parents stay in touch and keep family and friends updates are Caring Bridge and CarePages. Setting up one of these services can be a very valuable gift for NICU Parents. Instead of having to answer everyone's questions for the day, parents (or a designated person) can post the updates on a personal website, so everyone can keep up to date with the NICU baby's progress.

Many hospitals are partnering with these two companies to provide the services to their patients and their families.

Caring Bridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit web service that helps NICU parents stay connected with family and friends during a critical illness, treatment or recovery by creating a free, personalized web page. CaringBridge pages are offered in both English and Spanish.

CarePages provides free private websites that allows NICU Parents to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues before, during and after a healthcare challenge. The CarePages website allows NICU Parents, family or friends to create a personal, private web page to help family and friends communicate easily and receive updates when a newborn is in the NICU.

A Water Blessing Label

Using Water Blessing Labels in the NICU

When I found the Water Blessing Labels, it didn't take me long to realize the potential for using these clear cling labels in the NICU setting to help parents, family and friends focus on positive words and affirmations.

If the water blessing labels had been available at the time, I would have asked the NICU staff put them on her I.V. fluids. (e.g. love, healing, trust, courage, guidance).

I also would have used them on any bottled water we were drinking (e.g. love, healing energy, manifesting miracles) as another way to feel that we were doing something by holding her in our foremost thoughts and using the power of words and positive thoughts even if we weren't with her.

My favorite combinations come from the Healing Medicine Collection: courage, healing, nurturance, body wisdom, healing + energy and from the Prosperity Collection: trust, success, miracles, manifest + miracles.

Courage on IV Bottle from Spirit of Water

A Reminder for NICU Parents to TAKE CARE

Ways of Coping in the NICU

One of the most important things that a NICU parent needs to do is to be there to support their NICU baby through his or her first major life challenge. Figuring out how to be supportive and stay strong in the face of an overwhelming experience can be a major challenge for NICU parents.

There are many different ways that NICU parents find to cope with their NICU experience from journaling and scrapbooking to learning all that they can about the NICU and becoming an empowered NICU Parent to finding ways to interact with a NICU baby and perhaps most of all remembering to breathe, especially when situations get stressful.

Image: Kirsti A. Dyer. Remember to Breathe. Creative Commons License. Some Rights Reserved.

NICU Parents Need to TAKE CARE

TAKE CARE is the acronym I have developed to help people remember to focus on the basics following a major loss or life changing event.

TAKE CARE is a reminder to focus on the basics:

  • T ime is needed to handle the grief.
  • A void alcohol and other medications.
  • K eep to some routine or schedule.
  • E at a balanced diet. Focus on healthy foods and water.
  • C onverse with others, especially those that have "been there" and "survived that."
  • A rt can help keep the hands busy, whether journaling, building, crafting, knitting and others.
  • R est and Sleep are important to help the body heal.
  • E xercise to reduce stress and improve one's mood.

A Gift to Help the NICU Parent Relax

Helping the NICU Parent Stay Calm and Relax

Giving a gift to help the NICU Parent relax, if even for just a few moments can be invaluable for helping that parent keep his or her sanity with their NICU experience.

Different parents may prefer different gifts to help them relax. Listening to soothing, relaxing music is a very helpful way to calm down. A gift of a soothing CD and CD player, or ipod with MP3 downloads of soothing music would be welcome by many parents.

Other useful products to help parent relax are items from the "Happy Company" like travel, dream or eye pillows, body wraps and breast buddies. Other parents might find gifts of journals or scrapbooks to help them document their NICU experience as a way to stay calm and relaxed.

Since many NICU parents do not like to be too far from their baby, giving the parent a gift that he or she can use in the NICU might be the way to go. A gift of a massage or time to take a relaxing bath might be gifts to give the NICU parent after the baby is home from the NICU.

Steven Halpern, Inner Peace available on Amazon

Music Resources to Calm NICU Parents on Amazon

Steven Halpern, Ph.D. is one of my personal favorites for calming and soothing music. He has been at the leading edge of the growing understanding of the relationship between music, body, mind and spirit. Halpern's recordings are used in hospitals, healing clinics, and leading spas worldwide.

Here are just one of his many albums. Listen to a few of the tracks and see which of the different albums is the most soothing for you.

Inner Peace
Inner Peace

Inner Peace is the halmark name for his company.

Listen to this music any time you need to feel more peacful.

 

Relax with a Body Wrap

Use a neck wrap to soothe your nerves and muscles when you do get a break.

Luxury Aromatherapy Foot Cozies - Purple
Luxury Aromatherapy Foot Cozies - Purple

Help soothe tense muscles with this aromatic body wrap.

Scented with cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus.

 

A Gift to a NICU Parent is a Sliver of Joy

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.

Kelby Carr

Former NICU Mother

A NICU Journal, Diary or NICU Scrapbook

Journaling or Keeping a Diary in the NICU

There are many, many benefits for NICU parents to keeping an account of their time in the NICU as a journal or a daily diary. As noted by by musician John Mayall,

  • Journals are markers to whatever is going on in your life, at a particular moment. They are the memories and recollections...and the stories that were going on at the time.
Keeping a NICU Journal may be a very helpful and useful way for NICU parents to cope with the their NICU experiences and another way of becoming empowered NICU parents.

Because of the many benefits to journaling the NICU Staff, nurses and social workers often encourage parents to keep a daily account of their NICU adventures as a way of coping with the NICU.

Keeping a NICU Journal allows parents to monitor the changes that are occurring with their NICU newborn which may be easier to see when reviewed over time.

A Mommy Journal on Amazon

Journals, like this Mommy Journal, are good places for NICU parents to record their thoughts while their baby is in the NICU.

The Mommy Journal: Letters To Your Child
The Mommy Journal: Letters To Your Child

This journal includes space for customizing and recording quick entries to help preserve special memories.

 

Scrapbooking in the NICU

Like writing in a journal or daily diary, creating a scrapbook of your NICU baby's adventures is another way that many crafty NICU parents find helpful

Some NICU's like Holden NICU at the University of Michigan and the NICU at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital offer special programs in scrapbooking for parents in the NICU as a way to encourage parents to create a scrapbook.

Some parents might find the task of creating a scrapbook overwhelming, so the task of making a scrapbook could be passed on to a crafty grandparent, aunt or friend.

Baby scrapbook available on Amazon

Scrapbooks for Babies on Amazon

Use a scrapbook to keep mementos from the time in the NICU.

Pearhead Babyprints Scrapbook, Blue (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Pearhead Babyprints Scrapbook, Blue (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

This scrapbook comes in pink (seen above) or in blue.

Comes with print putty to capture the baby's footprint or handprint.

Contains 20 acid-free pages for scrapbooking

Measures 14.2 x 12.5 inches

 

Preemie Scrapbook Journals on eBay

Scrapbooks and Journals created especially for NICU babies available on eBay.

A Book about the NICU

Using Books in the NICU

For those who like to read and gain knowledge books may be very helpful for parents understanding the NICU, why their NICU baby has been hospitalized, particular NICU ailments and what to expect in the future. Books are particularly beneficial over Internet information because they are more portable and can be carried to read in one of the quiet places - the bathroom.

Many NICU Parents find that reading about other NICU parents' experiences in the NICU may make it easier to cope. Knowing that others have been there and survived helps many to cope with the present ordeal.

Books can also be useful for helping to explain to confused older siblings about what is going on with their NICU baby brother or sister.

Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child available on Amazon

Books for NICU Parents on Amazon

Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child was one of the helpful resources that I picked up after our NICU adventure. When my daughter was in the NICU, there weren't as many resources available.

All of the books selected here are highly recommended by current NICU parents on Amazon.

The Preemie Primer: A Complete Guide for Parents of Premature Babies--from Birth through the Toddler Years and Beyond
The Preemie Primer: A Complete Guide for Parents of Premature Babies--from Birth through the Toddler Years and Beyond

The Preemie Primer was written by Ob/Gyn Dr. Dr. Jennifer Gunter, who is also a former NICU parent.

 
Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey
Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey

One of the classic books on Parenting a Premature Baby, including what to expect.

 
Preemies - Second Edition: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies
Preemies - Second Edition: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies

The Essential Guide for Preemie Parents was written by a parent of premature twins.

 

A Book on Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo Care in the NICU

Kangaroo Care is a way of holding a NICU baby this is encouraged by many NICU's. Research has shown that this type of care is beneficial to both NICU parents and NICU babies.

NICU Parents who are interested in providing Kangaroo Care for their NICU baby can read up on this type of skin-to-skin care and check with the NICU staff about its policy on kangaroo care.

According to the March of Dimes, "Some NICUs postpone kangaroo care until the infant is medically stable, while others use it from birth onward. Kangaroo care is safe and beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines."

Image: Matt & Janet Dustin. Kangaroo Care. Creative Commons.

Kangaroo Care in the Amazon Spotlight

Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant
Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant

In Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant child health expert Dr. Ludington-Hoe explores the use of Kangaroo care, the physiological theories behind it, and how it benefits both infants and their parents.

 

A Book to Explain the NICU to a NICU Sibling

Explaining the NICU to a NICU Sibling

Another challenging task for NICU parents is explaining to older siblings why the new baby isn't coming home as scheduled. Older siblings have been hearing about and planning for the new baby, the same way as their parents and when those plans don't come through, it can be difficult.

One of the challenges that we faced with my NICU sibling, was that there were no books available at the time to help explain to my daughter that her sister was sick and in the NICU, but would hopefully be getting better and coming home.

Most of the books available for NICU siblings are for the siblings of NICU preemies, not the sick newborns who also end up in the NICU.

No Bigger than My Teddy Bear is a good book that describes life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, through the eyes of a young child.

No Bigger Than My Teddy Bear available on Amazon

Books to Explain the NICU to Children on Amazon

There are so many books available today written to help siblings of NICU babies understand why their little brother or sister isn't coming home from the hospital.

Here are just a few.

No Bigger than My Teddy Bear
No Bigger than My Teddy Bear

A book that describes life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, through the eyes of a young child.

 
The Littlest Sister
The Littlest Sister

A story written from the perspective of a 3-year-old who's baby sister is in the NICU.

 
My Sister is a Preemie
My Sister is a Preemie

A helpful book for siblings of a premature sister who plan on visiting the NICU.

 
My Brother is a Preemie
My Brother is a Preemie

A helpful book for siblings of a premature brother who plan on visiting the NICU.

 
Good Things Come In Small Packages (I Was A Preemie)
Good Things Come In Small Packages (I Was A Preemie)

This book is from the perspective of a child who had been born prematurely, explaining that good things can come in very small packages.

 

A Keepsake Baby Box

Creating a Keepsake NICU Baby Box

Keeping NICU mementos in a Keepsake NICU Baby Box is an easy way of helping keep track of your NICU Baby's experiences, especially for the NICU parents who may be feeling too overwhelmed to be putting everything into a NICU scrapbook.

A NICU baby box is a good place to put items from the NICU like mom and baby's hospital bands and hats, isolette or crib cards and tiny footprints. You might want to include a first diaper, outfit and hat and even small stuffed animals. The Keepsake box is also a good place to put messages, notes, cards and letters received from well-wishing friends and family.

The baby box is also a place you might want to include photos from the NICU to hold until you want to look at them again or put them into photo albums or scrapbook.

Keeping everything in a box is a good way to ensure that your mementos and memories won't be misplaced. The Keepsake box will be something you may enjoy sharing with your NICU baby once he or she is old enough to understand their special beginnings in the NICU.

Keepsake Box available on Amazon

Giving Gifts with Great Affection

Every gift which is given, even though is be small,

is in reality great, if it is given with affection.

Pindar

A NICU Jewelry Keepsake

I have always been a big believer in wearing jewelry items as a good luck charm or talisman (an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune or something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects).

When I was in the NICU with my daughter, my desire to have a charm or a talisman was no different, in fact the desire may have been magnified. Since my daughter was in the NICU, there have been different jewelry items developed by NICU parents as keepsakes. We developed the Violet Heart Pin as a way to express support and sympathies during challenging times.

There are also other products, like the Zorbitz bracelets and Karmaology that are good luck charms with intentions like "unexpected miracles," "good luck," "love," "health" and "strength." Many mothers have created beautiful mom necklaces and bracelets that can be personalized with the name of your NICU baby.

Do they work? I don't know, but when I was in the NICU with my daughter, I believe that even the smallest things, like having a necklace with her name on it, or a pin that would have indicated she was in the NICU would have make a huge difference.

A Violet Heart Pin

The Violet Heart Pins

I created The Violet Heart Pin as a jewelry keepsake that I would have liked to have had to wear while my daughter was in the NICU.

The pin was designed as a way of expressing heartfelt sympathies during challenging times, acknowledging the courage of those facing a significant life challenge or recognizing a current or past challenge.

The Violet Heart Pin can be worn by parents whose baby is in NICU as a reminder that they are holding their baby in their thoughts and prayers. Parents can also encourage family and friends to wear a Violet Heart Pin to indicate they are keeping the baby in their thoughts and prayers.

There is a version of the Violet Heart Pin that can be given to providers to honor the service and the remarkable healing work of the special people who help those who are grieving.

Violet Heart Pin available at The Violet Heart Collection

Zorbitz Karmology Bracelets on eBay

Zorbitz Karmology bracelets come in different styles with empowering messages.

A Custom Mom's Necklace or Bracelet

Order a Custom Necklace or Bracelet from Etsy

Etsy is the leading online website that allows Etsy hundreds of thousands of sellers to sell their handmade products directly to buyers.

The Etsy sellers featured all offer different types of necklaces and bracelets that can be personalized with your baby's name and information to become a reminder of your child when he or she is not with you.

Click on the item you are interested in. If it has been sold, be sure to check the seller's shop. Many times the items have been relisted and are still available. Be sure to check the other items in the seller's shop. I have only featured a few from each of these amazing jewelry artists.

A Helpful Zaky Hand

Using The Zaky Hand for NICU Babies

The Zaky® is an ergodynamic hand pillow is a way to simulate mother's or father's hand. This infant pillow is able to help provide comfort to your NICU baby when you are not able to do so.

Designed by former NICU parent, Dr. Yamile Jackson after her own NICU experience with her son Zachary in 2001, the Zaky® mimicking the shape, weight and touch of a human hand, the Zaky is able to provide comfort, support and a sense of security to NICU babies.

The special hand allows you to "leave a hand with a loved one" and "give your baby a hand" when you are not there.

The Zaky hand is one answer to the question "What can I do to support my NICU baby?" I know we would have gotten one for our daughter had they been around at the time, because I would have felt that we were leaving something with her to comfort her when we were not around.

Lime Green Zaky Hand

Giving a Gift from the Heart

A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time

and at the right place...

Bhagavad Gita

Benefiting 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 Parents?

Reader Feedback on Gifts for NICU Parents

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      Hannah Writes 5 years ago

      My boy/girl twins were born at 28 weeks. The best gift for me was having friends take care of my 7.5 year old daughter on the weekend so she did not have to spend all day in the NICU with her dad and me.