Want a way to help out other parents facing a short or long NICU stay? We spent 4 months in the NICU and know it can be exhausting facing the ups and downs of having a sick baby in the hospital. I wanted a way to give back to the wonderful UW NICU who helped save Cohen's life. They were so caring, loving, and supporting to us while we were there. In the past, we have delivered our care packages around Christmas time. Any NICU stay is tough, but having a baby in the hospital during the holidays seems like an even more difficult time. Our hope is that our care packages have brought a little bit of light to a long, tough journey.
If you are interested in taking care packages to your NICU, here's a few things to help you get started!
1. Contact your NICU and ask to be put in touch with a nurse manager or volunteer/parent coordinator. (You should be able to call and ask who the most helpful person might be to speak to, or you if you have a connection with a nurse or social worker at your NICU then ask them who would be best to coordinate with)
2. Our NICU wanted us to be able to offer a care package to as many families were in the NICU at the time. Their capacity was around 50 beds, so we made 50 care packages.
3. Tell your family and friends! Gather support, rally other NICU families. Let others know what you are doing. We had a HUGE outpouring of support and it was so, so awesome. And don't forget to remind them a few times.
4. Make an Amazon Wish List. This way, if people aren't local but still want to help, they can purchase something off the list and have it shipped to you.
5. Create a deadline, let people know when you want to have everything collected by (probably at least a week before you want to deliver so you can take inventory, organize and make sure you have what you need)
This is the list we used for our care packages based on things that I wish I had, or found useful, while I was in the NICU.
Care Package Items:
Small lotions (preferably unscented)
Snacks (trail mix, protein bars, granola bars etc)
Baby blankets (new, sewn, knit or crocheted, or store bought)
Sample size shampoo/conditioner
Small children's board books
Preemie Baby hats (new, knit, crochet, or sewn in preemie sizes)
$5 Starbucks gift cards (or another local coffee shop)
Emergen-c/Halls Vitamin C drops
As a bonus, we also made a few bags for families in need that included: newborn diapers, wipes, and small toys/teethers, gently used preemie and newborn clothes
There you go! Have fun! We found this such a great way to give back and encourage other parents on similar journeys.