Having a baby in the NICU is isolating and stressful, but over the holidays it can be even more so. Show your friends and family in the NICU that you care with these simple, yet significant gifts of support.

When parents have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, it can be difficult to anticipate how to most effectively help them through what can be a stressful and difficult time. Austin nonprofit Hand to Hold founder Kelli Kelley shared some tips on making this holiday season a little brighter and easier for NICU parents.

Special delivery

Offer to deliver a meal to the family at home or at the hospital. Or deliver holiday goodies like flavored coffee and sweet treats for them to enjoy. Meals are always appreciated by NICU parents, and sweet surprises always lift the spirits.

Childcare

For parents with older children, having a baby in the NICU can be a real juggling act. Offer to watch any other children so Mom and Dad may enjoy a stress-free visit with their baby in the hospital.

Spread some cheer

Colorful Christmas ornaments

Hanging a few decorations can do wonders for a mood, but having a baby in the NICU can easily overshadow regular holiday activities. Some parents may even feel guilty about seemingly frivolous tasks. Lighten the load by gathering together to put up the family's Christmas lights, garland or even their tree while they are away.

Whisk her away

If she feels up to it, suggest your friend take a short break from the NICU for a holiday shopping trip. Tackling some Christmas shopping may give her a sense of accomplishment in a time when there's not much else she can control.

Gift ideas

Give NICU parents practical gifts like hospital parking passes and meals for their freezer. Or go for thoughtful gifts like a massage or pedicure.

Give support

Help them remember that some holiday traditions may not be possible this year, but their situation is only temporary.

The stress and uncertainty of having a premature or sick baby in the neonatal intensive care unit is difficult for some to comprehend. Try to remain understanding of the parents’ situation and wishes. Help them remember that some holiday traditions may not be possible this year, but their situation is only temporary. Most of all, give the parents the freedom to decide what is best for their own family.

More on parenting a preemie

6 books for preemie parents
Our journey through prematurity
Benefits of kangaroo care for preemies

Topics: