Thoughtful and Inspiring Gifts for NICU Moms

There is nothing like a new baby. There is an excitement in the air with the anticipation of seeing, holding, and kissing your newborn baby for the very first time. Perhaps your family and friends are waiting patiently to visit you and your newborn in the hospital with flowers, congratulations cards, and balloons in hand.

But what happens when your baby is born prematurely or needs special care in the NICU? All of this quickly fades away, and you are often left feeling alone and afraid.

The first days in the NICU are nothing short of terrifying with the unknown, the what-ifs, and the confusion about what is yet to come. You have so many questions, and your family and friends are often left with just as many. They are worried about you, and they are worried about your baby too.

They want to support you, but many times they just don’t know how. They may say or do things with good intention that leave you feeling frustrated, alone, or misunderstood.

For family and friends—how do you appropriately “celebrate” an early arrival? How do you acknowledge this important event and precious new little life? How do you help parents cope with having a baby in the NICU, and what can you possibly do to not only give support but also help parents through the NICU journey? You want to do something and you want to show you care and that you are thinking of them, but with what and how?

Choosing a helpful and meaningful gift for a new NICU parent can be a bit challenging. The following will help guide you through this difficult process.



The Zaky
Nurtured by Design

There is nothing better than holding your baby skin-to-skin in what is called "kangaroo care." However, very few neonatal intensive care units provide the most developmentally appropriate supplies for skin-to-skin care. Products like the Zaky HUG are one of the most amazing gifts for parents of premature babies.

Leaving your baby in the NICU and walking out the doors of the hospital with empty arms is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences a parent can endure. Nothing you say or do can take this intense and immeasurable pain away.

Show the new parents you care and that you understand with a thoughtful heart-warming gift that allows the parents’ scent to stay with their baby, to help comfort, heal, and soothe when they cannot be physically present in the NICU.



The journey through the NICU can be very challenging emotionally; not knowing what to expect or what the future holds is very overwhelming. Books written by parents of premature babies who have not only been there but have come out on the other side can be very helpful and healing.

Likewise, parents often spend hours every single day at their baby's bedside, sitting, praying, and interacting with their baby. Studies show that parents who talked a lot to their preemies helped them develop language and cognitive skills.

Filling a basket full of books for babies is a great gift, not only for the early NICU days but to have treasured and meaningful stories to hold onto throughout childhood.



Some thoughtful and memorable gifts include a framed meaningful picture, inspirational quotes, thoughts, or poems that help lift the spirits as parents face some of the more difficult days. Crib notes such as those offered by Every Tiny Thing make amazing little gifts offering an inspirational push to keep moving forward, helping parents to take it one day at a time and focus on the positive aspects of the journey.



The NICU is never in anyone’s birth plan. The shower gifts of cute little newborn outfits and booties now have to wait. The images of Anne Geddes-style newborn pictures are now non-existent, and the baby book to journal milestones and newborn achievements is often left blank, as the journey through the NICU is much different from that of a newborn baby.

But, this doesn’t mean that these things shouldn’t be acknowledged or celebrated. Making these memories, cherishing them, and recording them is so important now and in the years to come, it will be these memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Here are some ways to help parents capture memories.


Many hospitals offer newborn photos but it is often once the baby is ready for discharge from the NICU. Photographing the journey and some of the early days will help parents not only remember but record some of the milestones. Finding a photographer who can capture these moments and help record these memories is an invaluable gift.


The first outfits for preemies may come days, weeks, or even months after birth. Dressing the baby for the first time is one of the most exciting milestones. Help parents celebrate this moment with a shirt or onesie that is not only meaningful but can also be a keepsake, helping them remember the happy moments of early NICU days.

Journey Beads

The NICU can spark emotions that parents never knew existed—emotions so intense that only those who have been through it can truly understand. With all the uncertainty a NICU stay brings, it is difficult to actually take the time to celebrate this new life.

But it’s important to acknowledge the journey, the emotions, the accomplishments, and the milestones, and to celebrate them all. Here are some benefits of Journey Beads:

  • Tell a story of strength, courage, hope, and healing
  • Help alleviate some of the emotional pain of the NICU experience, decreasing stress and anxiety
  • Provide a means to record and share their journey, giving a timeline and a tangible way to celebrate each milestone achievement in a positive and empowering way
  • Restore a sense of self, inspiring them to push on, knowing that they are not alone
  • Bring comfort in a time of crisis and a sense of joy to their journey

NICU Journey Beads offer a way for parents to tell their story, their baby's story, and to recognize, record, and celebrate the journey along the way.



Let’s face it. If you haven’t been there, you will never truly understand what it is like to have a baby in the NICU. Support from those who have walked the journey and have been there can make all the difference in the world.

Reach out to some of these preemie parent groups for your friend or family member and compile a list of websites like Hand to Hold or NICU Helping Hands that can offer support on a local level or virtually. You can also order a parent NICU care package

Reassure your loved one that it is not only OK but imperative to talk about the journey and seek out support from those who are available to offer a guiding and loving hand.

Keep in mind that the number one thing you can do is offer your support. Knowing that family and friends truly care can make all the difference in the world to parents who are going through one of the most difficult journeys of their life.

10 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.
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  6. Every Tiny Thing. 75 fantastic books to read aloud to NICU babies.

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