Top Gifts for New Parents When Bringing Baby Home from the NICU
By: Joanne Potter
Do you have a loved one that is getting ready to bring a baby home from the NICU? You may ask yourself what you can get them and their baby to celebrate this amazing time. Bringing a baby home from the NICU may look different from when a baby comes home right away with parents. Their baby may have had a short NICU stay or a lengthy one. When first coming home, the baby will probably need extra care and attention. It can feel good to search for gift ideas that help new parents welcome home their baby.
Ask the parents what they need. Everyone is different. Be sure to ask what you can do to help them during this exciting, yet sometimes scary, transition. Some parents might be so overwhelmed that they can’t give you specific ideas. As a NICU nurse for many years, I’ve compiled a list of top recommendations and ideas that parents and the community have shared.
Time and Space
It’s not what you wanted to hear, is it? You want to see the baby and celebrate with the parents, it’s only natural. The time for that will come later. Remember, this is the first family time they’ve had alone with the baby at home. They didn’t have the baby with them in mom’s hospital room after birth. Mom was discharged home while the baby had to stay in the NICU. Let them know you’re available for anything they need. If the parents give you rules and requests, heed them, even if they seem bizarre to you. They know their baby’s needs and status better than anyone else.
Gift cards for restaurants and food delivery services are a great help. The parents can order what food they like, whenever they need it. Bringing over home-cooked meals is also helpful. Ask parents what they prefer: fresh, frozen, or a variety or even snacks for other children. Setting up a meal train is great, as it makes mealtimes easier for the parents.
Gift cards are convenient ways for parents to order things they may not realize they need yet. Amazon, Target, and baby stores are excellent gift card options where they can order what they need. Instacart is another popular gift card for new parents because it provides grocery delivery straight to their house.
House Cleaning and Laundry
Offer to pay for a baby-friendly home cleaning service to come in for a “deep clean” before the baby comes home. If their baby had a lengthy NICU stay, the parents probably haven’t been home a lot, and cleaning the house hasn’t been a top priority. Babies coming home from the NICU have a decreased immune system, so a deep clean of their new environment can be beneficial. Offer to do their laundry or pay for a laundry service. Cleaning the house and doing laundry feel like never-ending chores. Regularly ask them how you can help with these tasks.
We used Boppy Pillows a lot in the NICU, so it’s not surprising that it’s a popular gift for parents bringing home their baby. If parents didn’t have their own Boppy Pillow for the hospital stay, they may have used one provided by the hospital. It’s important for both babies and parents to continue using products they’re comfortable with, even after leaving the hospital. Let’s look at the popular Boppy products that parents love to have when transitioning from NICU to home.
If the parents have been using a Boppy Pillow in the hospital, this is similar to what they’ve been using. This is a great support for a nursing mom and for bottle feeding a baby. Some parents would express feeling nervous about holding a small baby, especially if they were preterm, and this type of support pillow helped them to feel more confident while holding their baby. After being unable to hold the baby as often as they wanted in the NICU, parents will naturally want to hold their precious baby often once they get home. The Boppy Pillow will keep their baby comfortable during holding and allow more support.
This cover is a hit with parents because it’s so versatile. The breathable mesh allows airflow while providing privacy. Mom can use it as a cover while nursing if she wishes. It can cover the car seat to keep baby shielded, which is desired among parents with babies that are susceptible to germs. Parents have to take their baby to doctor’s appointments, but don’t want to expose them to well-meaning, but curious hands while in public. This cover gives them peace of mind in knowing their baby is covered while still being able to easily peek in on them through the mesh.
This is another product that grows with the baby, as it can be used to cover grocery carts and high chairs. Parents love versatility, especially when they have so many items to take with them when they go out. Not only is the cover versatile, but it’s easily folded into a pouch to conveniently put into the diaper bag.
While in the NICU, parents most likely worked with physical and occupational therapists to learn exercises that will help their baby’s development, including activities like tummy time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play.” This tummy time prop helps babies meet the daily recommended tummy time. The recommendation is to start small and increase tummy time as the baby grows. Parents can attach a favorite toy to the prop so the baby can reach and play as their tummy time increases.
Last, but certainly not least, is the popular ComfyHug carrier. This is a big hit with parents when bringing a baby home from the NICU because it’s designed for babies as small as five pounds. Again, parents will want to hold and spend as much time as they can with the baby when they get home. This carrier enables them to wear the baby comfortably while tending to other children or needs. They can use this carrier for babies up to 20 pounds and its mesh cover keeps the baby protected while out in public.
After choosing a gift to welcome the family and baby home, check in with parents after they’ve been home for a few weeks. Mom may be ready to get out of the house to grab a cup of coffee and chat with a friend. Continue to follow up to see what their needs are week to week. Offer to watch the other children, clean the house, or do laundry, since these are routine needs. By being there for the parents and asking what they need, you will help them tremendously during this exciting transition.
Joanne Potter BSN, RN is a writer that specializes in health and wellness. She has over fifteen years of experience as a Registered Nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Her years working at the bedside and extensive neonatal knowledge enable her to write with a deep understanding of what health providers and parents want from their community.