It can be difficult supporting a friend or family member that is going through a NICU experience. The typical new baby protocol of buying a gift from their registry and bringing a meal to their home might not apply. But the birth of a baby, even if it is early, is always something to be celebrated. Here are a few things you can do to celebrate and support your loved one during this trying time.
Send them a Gift
It is still appropriate to send a gift for a preemie. But you may want to consider the type of gift that you send. Typically the hospital is providing diapers, wipes, and whatever the baby is eating. Many preemies will not wear clothes right away. And some hospitals regulate what kinds of toys and stuffed animals babies can have in their isolettes. So these items don’t make the best gifts for NICU babies. Instead of something off of the baby registry, consider a present that they can use right away. A soft hat or swaddle blanket is always a great option. Also, consider a children’s book. Many parents spend hours a day at their baby’s bedside, and reading is a great way to bond. You can even buy children’s books that are about preemies. For more gift ideas, you can check out this post.
Provide a Meal
Life is stressful with a baby in the NICU, and many times parents simply forget to eat, or they are too tired to prepare a meal after a long day at the hospital. Bringing a meal, that is easy to reheat or freeze for future use can be helpful. Remember to ask about dietary restrictions, especially for nursing Mamas. Another great option is a gift card for a restaurant close to the hospital. Lunch is a great excuse to take a break and get some time away from the NICU.
Send an email, card, or text to let the person know you are thinking of them. This probably isn’t the best time for long phone conversations, so leave a voicemail without obligation to return the call.
Take Care of Pets or Kids
Having a baby in the NICU doesn’t stop other life obligations from needing attention. Other children and pets still need care. Offer to help by picking children up from school, or walking a pet. Knowing that everyone at home is okay, can help reduce the guilt that one may feel about spending hours at the NICU with their new baby.
The NICU experience is a rough one, but you can be supportive and helpful by following these few tips. And remember, your loved one needs support even after the baby is released from the hospital. So be ready to offer your love and encouragement for many months to come.