Thursday, January 10, 2013

Must Have Items for the NICU

I was inspired to write this post by a thread on HelloBee listing your top 5 items for a newborn.  Many things are the same for a preemie in the NICU, but there are a few unique items that warrant their own list.

1. Boppy Pillow
I know that people are divided on whether they like their Boppy, but in the NICU, it's awesome!  I started working on feeding with Dylan when he was about 3 pounds.  I would fold a pillow double under him to get him higher.  It worked, but wasn't very easy.  The Boppy rests on the arms of the rocker/glider at the perfect height to allow Dylan to breastfeed or bottle feed.  It soft for me and for him...great for after feeding naps!

2. A Lovey

We got this one from Pottery Barn for Christmas-time.  (Dylan has 3.)  In the beginning, when baby is in the isolette, it's very comforting to see something that's not hospital gear.  I'm sure he didn't even notice, but it made me happy!

Here is Dylan with his: (at 4 weeks old, 29 weeks adjusted)

3. Clothes that Snap

NICU babies have lots of cords attached to them, so zippers just won't work.  Also, while babies are on Oxygen, over the head clothing requires a nurse's help.  So sleepers with snaps are the best.  Cute, cuddly, and hospital friendly.

4. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

Hospital blankets are rough!  And not too pretty either.  I feel more like a normal mom when I'm holding Dylan with an A&A Swaddle Blanket.  They are so soft and cute!  The light, large fabric with a little bit of stretch is so much easier to swaddle with!

5. Soothies

I know people talk about nipple confusion with pacifiers, but in the NICU, these are physical therapy!  (And the hospital supplies them.)  Dylan has been given pacifiers long before he was allowed to try a bottle.  They help strengthen his suck reflex as well as calm him.  He gets a mixture of breast, bottle, and paci and does just fine.

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If you have a near-term baby or are going to be in the NICU awhile, your LO could use some developmental toys.

6. Mirror

I got this Fisher Price mirror yesterday at Target for $3.97!  It was a total clearance score.  Dylan's only had it for one day, but he loves it.  Babies love looking at faces.  As much time as I spend at the NICU, he's alone a lot too.  Most of the time he's sleeping, but if he's awake, I like that he has something fun to look at.  He also loves staring at a little stuffed monkey one of his nurses got him for Christmas. : )

7. Mobile

I haven't taken it in yet, but this is the mobile we got for Dylan.  Another thing for him to look at when he's awake.

8. Bathtub

Dylan gets baths a couple of times a week.  He used to fit in the little yellow hospital tub, but he's getting too big!  I keep forgetting to take his tub in, but when I do it will definitely make bath time more enjoyable!

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And here are a couple of preemie-specific items.

9. Bean Bag

These are all home-made bean bags.  I was lucky to have one that was made by a nurse.  They are essential to keeping a micro preemie comfortable.  The bean bag is placed over the baby's lower body to help keep them in a good position (legs together, tucked) and to add some weight to keep them more comfortable.  The womb is much cozier!

10. Preemie Baby Book

There are so many things that make preemie moms feel alienated from the "regular" moms.  Baby books are just one small thing.  This book was written by NICU nurses and includes space for things like daily weight updates, the day baby graduated to an open crib...there's even a spot to paste the "sunglasses" baby wore under bili lights to prevent jaundice!  It's really cool and I love having it.

These items, along with a few personalized touches around the room, have really helped make the NICU feel more like home.  If you have any further hints for NICU moms, post below!


  1. we were given a book called the littlest peanut - the same idea. although i don't know if i remember a lot of the things! we had one sleeper that had snaps that allowed it to be converted to a was my have!

  2. That photo of Dylan with his lovey is just beautiful! I hope you're all doing well. xx

  3. Great list! I am sure it will really help a lot of premie moms. I am glad your son is growing and thriving. I think it's amazing that Dylan is already breastfeeding - what an achievement!

  4. I've already got most of the things on this list - it's a very accurate list! I'm going to go check out preemie baby books now, for when people ask what I need as a gift. Thanks for the idea!

  5. I am going through all of this right now with my girls and appreciate this post. They have only been in NICU for three weeks, but I am always looking for ways to make their stay more comfortable.

  6. Check out The Littlest Peanut as well. A portion of the sales goes to the NICU. It has beautiful illustrations and is a wonderful milestone book for babies in the NICU. Can go to website