NICU Care Packages

The site I run is working on putting together NICU care packages or survival kits that an out of town friend or relative could send to a NICU parent. We've brainstormed a bunch, but I was wondering if you guys had any better ideas. We won't necessarily know where these are going, so gift cards are out. Current ideas include a disposable camera, chapstick, pen and notebook, small stuffed animal for baby, etc.

Any other ideas would be appreciated. Think along the lines of small comfort items you had or wanted while sitting in the NICU.

Thanks!!

-Kristie

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What a cute idea! I would have loved to recieve one of those!
I suggest a copy of preemie magazine ( or at least information about how to get a free supscription) and information for Caringbridge.com. It is a website where you can set up a free website for your ill child. It was a HUGE help for us because we were in a hospital 2 hours from home and 12 hours from our nearest family members. I don't know what we would have done without Caringbridge.com to help us get out the info on our little one. One of the best things about the site is that you set up a guestbook where people can leave their notes for your baby. It was so encouraging to read those notes after a long day.
One another suggestion. The nurses at our NICU made cute little "name tags" for the incubators using scrapbook stickers and letters. I was so glad to see our little Rebecca's name made up so cute. It was a way of showing how proud we were of our baby and what an individual she was. Maybe you could include stickers or scrapbook supplies that have to do with NICU parenting.
Anyway, best of luck with your idea!

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What a great idea! I received one while my son was in the NICU. I believe it was from March of Dimes supporters in our area. It had two copies of Preemie Magazine. One for me and one to pass on to someone else. It also had a blue preemie onesie ( I believe from Gerber). NICU baby journals to write everything down. One was filled with all the NICU terms. One to write memories etc. Another idea is preemie soothies. Not all hospitals offer them. My son was given a regular soothie that they cute so it wouldn't cover his nose. Maybe you can work a deal out with a online store that sells preemie items, to see if they will offer coupons etc. Hope this helps.

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excellent idea.
we received a little handout booklet with photos of premies facial expressions and a line underneath them explaining. example I'm to tired right now please put me back in the incubator or I am alert talk to me. It also had a huge glossary of medical terms that we needed to know. Other things that would be nice, hand cream after the alcohol hand wash they get really dry. Some snacks like granola bars or cookies and a bottle of water. We were also very luck to receive a hand made tiny quilt for our little one while in the unit. A local women's church group made them for the premies. They also gave us a little knitted hat.

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I think this is a great idea.. We had a great NICU but there were things that I wish I would have had with me at the begining that as a new preemie mom - you just don't have time to run out for. I suggested to our NICU that they give new parents orientation materials in a three ring binder so that you have a place for everything. We had great little mail boxes on the isolettes where we recieved information but there was no central place to put it and keep orgnainzed.

I agree on the Caringbridge information as well as Preemie Magazine - they are things that really helped us during our NICU stay of 86 days. Another thing that I think would have been nice would be a reccomended reading list for parents. There are so many book out there that it would have been nice to have some reccomendations. A preemie hat and a Preemie blanket or one of the pieces of fabric that you wear on you to get your scent and then leave with the baby would have been nice as well. These were a few of the first things that I bought when my daughter was born that I actaully used.

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How loving of you to do such a thing! As a parent of a preemie who was in the hospital for 8 weeks, I know any little gift is appreciated. How about teaming up with another volunteer organization that knits little blankets or hats and booties? A lot of times senior homes/clubs participate in those kinds of activities. I recieved a small blankie that my Dani still sleeps with.
Also, maybe a nice preemie outfit. When she was still in the hospital and at a point where she wasnt doing very well, I recieved a beautiful preemie sized dress. It gave me so much hope. I couldnt help but cry when I opened the package. Wal-Mart has very affordable and adorable onsies, sleepers, and outfits that could easily be put into a gift package. Most are under $5!
Bless you for being such a caring person for doing something like this. Its a small gesture that means so much to parents like myself and my husband.

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What a fabulous idea. We also had a great NICU with great staff, but we did not get a care package. We did get a blanket from ChildLife that had been donated by the Linus project. We have it in my daughters hope chest. This was very special for us, it made us feel less like we were in the NICU.

One good idea would be a hand held mirror for use during Kangaroo Care. We had one for a while but when they moved my daughter to the second step isolet, it got moved as well, then because there had been so many babies admitted into the NICU they did not have anymore. We went and bought one and put my daughters name on it. Some snack type foods/drinks would also be nice. Our NICU did not have even a soda machine on the floor, so if you needed something to drink you had to go to the lobby.

A list of suggested reading material would be good. The material, well of course that would be even better. I searched for days before I found a book that I thought was appropriate and then I had to order it online so it took some time to get there.

I know that sending a specific gift card would be hard, but what if you sent a VISA gift card that can be used anywhere?

WOW, I think I could go on and on. Our biggest gift was parking passes. We lived 1 1/2 hours from the NICU my daughter was in (74 days) and some friends of ours got together and gave us two "7-day Parking passes". Considering that parking cost $10 per day...that was a tremendous help.

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Our NICU has a parent support group called Tiny Miracles that gave us a NICU carepackage. Inside was a preemie shirt that is IV friendly and would fit a 3 lb baby, a preemie Swaddle Me, a "Don't Touch my hands until you wash yours" sign, a travel size hand sanitizer with a carrying clip to attach to a diaper bag, information for our local Birth to Three program, preemie pacifier, preemie Dr. Brown bottle (2 oz), an ookie doll (to put your scent in the isolette), milk storage supplies for pumping, a pack of preemie diapers. They also sponsor the parent room outside the NICU which has a computer with internet access for NICU parents and snacks every Friday. They also have a former trained NICU parent on Fridays for parents to meet with and a support group on Tuesdays once a month for any parent/former parent of NICU. Here is the web address if you'd like to get ideas from there. www.ttmf.org

I hope that this helps.

Ruth

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Hi
We did not receive any carepackages at the NICU.
We did receive a care package that all babies receive at our hospital at the time of my discharge.
It had a small diaper bag (very cute), diaper, onesie, one babycare book of American Academy of pediatrics and some more stuff which I do not remember as I did not pay attention since the girls were still in the NICU.
I went and saw your website too.Great job!

With best wishes,
Shruti

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I would say to put in hand sanatiser (mabee with aloe as the hospital one make your hands so dry), and tissues! And a nice bood mabee about preemies for change of shift breaks, and a snack too like crackers. What a wonderfull idea for you to do this.

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i know you said gift cards are out but having quick easy food available for me was so helpful. what about gift cards to mcdonalds or fast food. also deoderant, hair clips (for mom when holding baby hair gets in the way) maybe a neck pillow, lotion for dry hands from washing them all the time. photo frame. again any kind of snack, cookies. calling card. preemie clothes. hmmm im just brain storming here.
also, i made up a few handouts that i gave to the nicu social worker on preemie resources. websites, books etc. email me and i can send it to you.
jennifer

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I received a insulated bag with an ice pack to take the breast milk that I had pumped to the hospital.

As a mom of twins I would suggest that you mention the Easy Expression hands free Bra
for the moms that pump ( it made my life much easier at that time )
and also the hands free Podee bottle ( my babies are 12 months and I just started using this bottle for one of them, however I wish I knew about this kind of bottle when I brought them home!! )
( There is a similar bottle which name is Pacifeeder, it seems to be better but I am having problem with this one, so I would suggest the Podee bottle )

Good Luck and God Bless you for this great idea!

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How about some good strong moisterizer (fragrance free) to use after scrubbing in all those times!!!

Great idea! I would have loved to recieve a care package!

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I believe prepaid phone cards and cash would be very handy to include.I know the dilemmas my daughter faces due to her not being able to work so that she can be with the baby.She could really use cash for food or cab fare to & fro the Ronald McDonald House,as she doesn't drive & my son-in-law has to work to pay bills.we live 3 hrs from the nicu.

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what we do here, is the graduates of our nicu all save our preemie things- clothes, equipment etc & we have an arrangement with the desk lady to bring them up there when we have a collection & we donate them to the current babies in the nicu- sometimes it goes to a specific baby via the social worker (who is also a wonderful contact if you have donations) & sometimes we make carepackages for the families - our nicu has its own wardrobe for the babies that never seems to have enough preemie outfits - so those of us who can, give our outgrown preemie things to them instead of selling them in garage sales or on ebay!
they also need things like oxy-clean or shout as stains happen frequently-
for new preemie moms, you might add to that journal idea with different pens and accessories to mark milestones, maybe a keepsake box or a little pamplet with ideas on marking nicu milestones- i know i missed a few before i figured out what was what & what was going on in there!

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Thanks to everyone for their great ideas. Hopefully we'll have things together for at least some of the baskets in the near future.

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You may want to search some other topics on here, like "favorite NICU / Preemie Item" I know I responded with a link to a few things I wish were made when my son was in NICU. (he's now 6 1/2).

The other things that was *VERY* helpful for me was disposable camera I could leave at the bedside for the nurses to take cute pics with. I also liked the idea of a journal but was not suggested that until after we left NICU. Anyhow.

Blessings, HTH
Kiristie

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I think your idea is WONDERFUL!! Not only do I work in a NICU as a staff nurse, but my daughter was also born at 32 weeks and spent a month in the NICU. You could also include a package of tissues ( since mothers can be exceptionally emotional at this time). I think it's hard to say definitely what a aprent would need since each baby is unique and each person reacts differently to any given situation. I've seen mother's sobbing hysterically for a baby who's in the unit for observation; and then have a father who has just lost one baby and have a smile on his face while he sits at his other baby'sbedside. I can take a survey and see what other people think, but definitely something there is a need for.......Sue

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Last Christmas we made up care packages in honor of our daughter's second birthday(which was in January) for the NICU/PICU parents at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. We included a pocket calendar for all of those followup visits, a notepad, inkpen, candy and a small gorilla stuffed animal. We also made baskets of goodies for the doctors and nurses. We try to do something each year to honor the care that our DD received during her 3 month stay there.

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I received a bab book for premature infants. The journal is great b/c it tracks everything for a preemie and continues on as they get older. it is called MY Early Arrival Baby Journal by michle bain and helen Rogers dobbins. It is great!

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