6 Great NICU Nurse Gift Ideas

A thank you note.

Ian Moran / Getty Images

Simple gifts are a great way to thank newborn intensive care unit (NICU) nurses for the care your baby received while in the hospital. It's also thoughtful to recognize your baby's NICU nurses during the holiday season or National Nurses Week. Though the work they do tirelessly day after day can literally be life-changing and life-saving, many nurses go unappreciated. Give the nurses in your life the thanks they deserve with one of these inexpensive gifts.

Note that some hospitals have gifting restrictions or germ protocols in place, so check to make sure your gift is allowed. For example, the hospital may suggest or require individually wrapped and/or store-bought food items, instead of homemade goodies. And singling out individual staff members for a gift may also be discouraged (but personal thank-you notes are always welcome).

Thank-You Notes

Nothing beats a handwritten thank-you note. NICU nurses are very committed to their jobs, and the best gifts are your heartfelt thanks for doing it well. Thank-you notes sent to the unit—or even just an in-person thank you—really lift nurses' spirits, especially on sad days in the NICU.

It can be hard to put your gratitude into words when you're trying to honor someone who literally helped save your child's life. But if you write from the heart, you will convey your message.

To further support a staff member you want to recognize, send a copy of your note to the unit's nurse manager or the hospital's customer service department. This is a very meaningful gesture.


Pictures of the babies they've cared for who are now growing healthy and strong are some of the best presents that NICU nurses can receive. Nurses grow to love the babies they take care of, especially those who are with them for long periods of time, and they love to see how they're doing after they've gone home.

Tuck a few snapshots into your thank-you notes, and send updates as your baby grows. Nurses do remember their patients long after the babies have left the NICU.


You can never go wrong with food (as long as the hospital allows it). Food makes a great gift for nurses! They're not picky: doughnuts, fruit baskets, cookies, sandwiches, snacks, veggie trays—you name it, it's all equally appreciated. Plus, it can be delivered at any time of day, as there are always nurses on duty who may be in need of nourishment.


Twelve-hour shifts are long and often difficult, and if you've ever had the pleasure of sampling hospital coffee, you know it's far from gourmet. Flavored coffee, gourmet coffee, and coffee creamers are always appreciated (not just in the NICU, but in virtually any hospital unit).

Gift Cards

Your baby's NICU nurses will surely appreciate gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops. These gifts let the nurses have a nice lunch or coffee break on you, whenever it is convenient for them.

This is an especially useful option if the hospital restricts food gifts. Typically there is no problem with gift cards, and then the nurses can pick out exactly what they want or need.

Festive or Practical Nursing Supplies

Unless you're a nurse, you've probably never set foot inside a nursing supply store, but these places are treasure troves. Nursing supply store offerings go far beyond scrubs. They're full of fun novelty items, like pens shaped like syringes and badge holders with smiley faces. They also offer practical goods, like bandage scissors and other necessities that may not be supplied by the hospital.

Any of these would make a great gift for a nurse. Or, get a gift card so that your recipient can choose just what they need.

A Word From Verywell

When your baby is in the NICU, of course your focus is on your baby's health and getting them home. That's the focus of your NICU nurses as well. So, show your appreciation for their dedication and care of your little one by giving them a simple thank you gift for their devotion. It doesn't matter what the gift is, It really is the thought that counts—although yummy food and other treasures are always a hit!

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fiske E. Nurse stressors and satisfiers in the NICU. Adv Neonatal Care. 2018;18(4):276-284. doi:10.1097/ANC.0000000000000514

  2. Turner M, Chur-hansen A, Winefield H. The neonatal nurses' view of their role in emotional support of parents and its complexities. J Clin Nurs. 2014;23(21-22):3156-65. doi:10.1111/jocn.12558

  3. Bearman G, Bryant K, Leekha S, et al. Healthcare personnel attire in non-operating-room settingsInfect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014;35(2):107–121. doi:10.1086/675066

By Cheryl Bird, RN, BSN
Cheryl Bird, RN, BSN, is a registered nurse in a tertiary level neonatal intensive care unit at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia.