Bringing Gift-Giving to the NICU

December 8, 2014

This time of year is a wonderful time of year to thank and celebrate those who have made an impact in our lives.  It’s also a great time to give back and encourage those who might find it hard to find things to celebrate.  There are two things I love doing with my preemie, who is now 6!  We love to deliver gifts to the families in the NICU on Christmas Eve. We also like bring gifts and visit with the doctors and nurses who cared for her.  Another family who spent time in the NICU at the same time as us enjoys coming along with us and the doctors and nurses love seeing how much our kids have grown each year and how well they are doing.  For me, it’s a great time to remember where we once were and to be thankful for where we are and what we have now.  Gift giving in the NICU is a great way to bless other families and the staff in the NICU.

Playing Santa delivering gifts.

Playing Santa delivering gifts.

Blessing other families with gifts is a way to show them they are not alone in this journey.  It’s very easy to feel alone as you go through the day to day life in the NICU, but especially during the holidays.  I still have many of the special gifts that different people gave us while we were in the NICU.  Our “neighbors” (the family of the baby in the bed next to our daughter) bought Haley some adorable Halloween onesies when we found out she would be home for Halloween.  Our NICU Family Support Specialist gave us several things also, but one thing I still cherish is a Kangaroo beanie baby that she gave us after our first time kangaroo holding our daughter.

Now that I have hopefully inspired you to give back, you’re probably wondering what would make a good gift.  Here are some ideas for gifts for families celebrating the holidays in the NICU.

  • NICU survival boxes. In these I have included things like mints, hot cocoa and a travel mug, a disposable camera to leave at the baby’s bedside, a picture frame, a journal and pens, and a gift card for gas or food somewhere near the hospital.
  • Clothing. One year we bought Christmas-themed onesies for each baby and had the nurses either put the baby in them or put them next to the baby’s bed if they were not yet wearing clothes.
  • Decorations. You could also, with the permission of the hospital, decorate each baby’s bed.
  • Stockings. Make a stocking for each baby and fill it with some of the items I listed in the survival boxes.
  • Parent-specific items. There are a few wonderful online stores that sell preemie-related items like t-shirts or jewelry for parents to wear. These also make great gifts.

TIP: Be sure to ask if there are any families that do not celebrate Christmas.  You could try to bring them something related to the holiday they celebrate, but it’s important to remember to respect those who do not want to be a part of what you are doing.

Haley with one of her favorite nurses.

Haley with one of her favorite nurses.

Of course, we can’t leave the NICU staff behind! Here are some ideas for the nurses and staff that have cared for our precious little ones.  They work so hard and many spend the holidays with our babies instead of their families.

  • Festive food. The nurses in our NICU love food. They appreciate any food you can bring they can snack on when they get a free moment. These treats can be mood-lifters too, especially when decorated in holiday fashion.
  • Updates. The NICU staff loves updates on the babies they care for. Receiving a card each year with a photo of their former patient is something they enjoy.
  • Gift certificates. If there is a special nurse or doctor you want to honor, you could get them a gift certificate for a massage. After a long, hard day they might really enjoy that. Other gift certificates make good gifts, too.

So whether you’re showing your appreciation for that special NICU staff member or helping bring a little holiday cheer to the newest NICU family, holiday gift giving can mean so much to those that are receiving – and those that are giving.