What is a good gift for a premature baby? Let’s talk about how to help NICU parents with some of the best items for a premature baby gift set.
When your friend or loved one has a premature baby in the NICU, it can have you feeling helpless. You desperately want to help, but how?
We asked over 75 NICU parents to figure out the absolute best gifts for a premature baby. The gifts that were the most useful. Services that were the most meaningful.
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If you’re looking for the ultimate NICU survival kit, look no further – we’ve got you covered.
In This Guide:
Everyone needs to eat so food makes a great gift. Here are some of the top food gifts for preemie parents:
Grocery shopping may not be on the top of mom and dad’s to-do list, but they’ll likely appreciate having food in the kitchen when they come home. When going back and forth from the hospital, many parents end up eating out a lot. So one of the easiest ways how to help NICU parents can be to give them some healthy basics at home.
Get some of the foods you know they eat, in particular get staples like pasta, tomato sauce, bread, cheese, lunch meat, eggs, cereal, or fruit. Grab some of their favorites for a treat too.
Pssst…. get them a super portable and functional cooler like this and I guarantee they’ll continue to use it when transporting groceries and baby foods in the future.
Bring over some homemade meals to make dinner as easy as possible. This is especially helpful for families with other children at home since their needs don’t stop even though the parents are busy and stressed.
Recipes that keep well and could be frozen are great because they give the family lots of flexibility over when they eat it. Things like casseroles, lasagnas, and soups are all good options.
When bringing a meal, it is really helpful to include everything that would be needed. For instance, if giving a salad, throw in the salad dressing too. Don’t make any assumptions about what they may have at home to go with it since they may not be making their usual grocery trips. Even pasta and rice can be cooked and refrigerated ahead of time.
Another idea to make things even easier is to bring food in disposable containers so they don’t need to worry about washing and returning anything.
Gift cards make a perfect gift because they offer maximum flexibility for the parents. They can use them whenever and however is most convenient.
If they’re available in their area, a gift card for Uber Eats or DoorDash allows them to order delivery from tons of different restaurants. They can get what they want, when and where they need it, whether that’s at home or the hospital.
Another idea is to get a gift card for a local restaurant close to NICU. This can be very convenient since they’ll be passing by it so frequently.
And of course, coffee. Almost any parent could use a coffee gift card.
Snacks are an ideal gift for parents spending long hours in the hospital and rushing back and forth. Mom and dad can spend more time bonding with baby in the room, if they don’t have to run out as often to eat.
Small, easily portable snacks are perfect for parents on the go. If you know their favorites, grab those for sure. If you don’t, some good options are granola bars, fruit, nuts, and string cheese.
If mom is pumping or breastfeeding, be sure to grab some yummy dark chocolate lactation cookies and bars. This sample pack from Munchkin Milkmakers has it all!
Gifts of Service
There are many ways you can lend some much-needed assistance to the parents.
Babysit the Siblings
Since mom and dad will be spending a lot of time at the hospital, one of the most helpful ways how to help NICU parents is to give them a hand with their other child or children. Finding childcare can be a big hurdle for parents and limit their ability to be present with their newborn.
Offer to take care of the other kids when possible – pick them up from school/daycare, feed them dinner, or even watch them overnight.
The situation can also be confusing for older brothers and sisters who may not fully understand what’s going on. Showing them a little extra attention is also a kind gift for the family.
Also, don’t forget their fur babies! Offer to check on their pets. Feeding or walking their dog could mean that they don’t have to hurry home, giving them a bit more time to bond with baby.
Help Around The House
Taking care of the house is just not going to be a priority for mom and dad right now. Unfortunately, some of these household chores still need to get done which is where you come in. Give them a hand around the house to free up more of their time and energy for baby.
The types of chores you choose to carry out are highly dependent on your specific relationship with the parents. For instance, laundry will always continue to pile up, but your relationship may not be close enough to handle dirty underwear.
Alternatively, consider hiring someone to give the house a good clean for them.
Also, yard work is often necessary and easily neglected by busy parents. It’s also pretty easy to help out since you don’t have to go inside, so you also don’t have to coordinate schedules or swap keys. Take the yard care off their plate by mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, or shoveling the walkway.
Spending so much time at the NICU can be isolating for parents. Simply letting them know that you’re thinking of them and their baby can mean a lot.
A little note, card, or text is a nice way to reach out and understand that you may not get a response. Your words of love and support will be appreciated without the pressure of replying.
When looking how to help NICU parents, here are a bunch of ideas to make the extra hospital stay more bearable.
Allow mom to go hands-free while pumping by gifting her with this handy dandy pumping bra. It lets mom do other things while pumping like answer emails, scroll through the phone, craft, write thank you cards, etc.
We highly recommend the Simple Wishes Pumping Bra. Speaking from experience, it lasts for years through countless uses and holds its elasticity like a champ!
Help Pay for Parking Tickets
Many hospitals offer prepaid weekly or monthly plans for parking. If the parents are going to be there a while, consider offsetting their parkin expenses.
Parents use up a lot of gas driving back and forth from the hospital. Make things a little easier by getting them a gift card to a nearby gas station.
If one of the parents have posted any photos of pregnancy, delivery, or baby on social media – take advantage. Have the photos printed and fill up a small (but cute!) photo album.
Try to include some photos of close family members as well. Family can bring it to the NICU to stay close to everyone during this difficult time.
Alternatively, you can also hire a photographer to take photos of the baby if your friend is comfortable.
Consider giving gift cards to audible or something similar so parents can listen when pumping or hanging out with baby. Believe me, there’s plenty of downtime during those NICU visits.
Mama and Dada Care
Baby isn’t the only one who needs attention! Here are some gifts specifically for the new parents.
Hospital air is dry. Gift some of the best lip balm to combat that super dry environment.
Parents have to wash and sanitize their hands a lot when they are visiting the hospital. They’ll thank you profusely for a good quality hand lotion! We highly recommend Tree to Tub because it’s a neutral pH, a miracle cure, and unscented.
It will be a cherished memory parents will enjoy looking back on for years to come.
Look for anything to help occupy the parents.
A nice, luxurious robe can be used for skin to skin time and allow them to still feel covered. Plus they’ll get lots of use when baby comes home from the hospital and they don’t feel like getting dressed.
A lot of things like phones, purses, books, etc. have to be sanitized prior to coming into the NICU. Sanitizing wipes like these would come in super handy!
When staying in the NICU, the hospital will provide everything baby needs. That being said, there are a few fun gifts that are just perfect for a new premie. Here is our list for the ultimate premature baby gift set.
Reading to babies in the NICU is encouraged as a way for parents and baby to bond. Parents can read even if they can’t hold their newborn. Also babies recognize their mom’s voice and hearing it may even help development.
Board books make a great gift because they can be easily sanitized to bring into the NICU.
Don’t know where to start? In our opinion you can’t go wrong with anything by Sandra Boynton.
NICU Milestone Cards
Premature babies may have a bunch of different milestones than you’d expect for a full term baby. These special moments can be celebrated and remembered with these precious Preemie Milestone cards.
The best premature baby gift set should always include some clothes. Preemie sizes aren’t easy to find! So you’ll be doing the new parents a big favor.
Get a cute blanket they can drape over the baby’s isolette in the NICU. Etsy makes some specific isolette blankets, but really any pretty baby blanket will do.