How to Help a Nicu Family

How can you help a new mom who has a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), especially around the holidays? Nothing has prepared her to leave the maternity ward empty-handed. She is likely feeling pretty crummy as she watches other new moms being rolled out of the hospital with a brand new baby while hers is struggling in the NICU. Those feelings are normal but they can be overwhelming.

Parents with babies in the NICU are usually very stressed out. They are having to figure out how to deal with managing life running back and forth to the hospital while juggling other responsibilities. New parents are busy making plans to figure out new challenges while their baby remains in the hospital. Trips back and forth to the hospital come with added financial woes, loss of sleep, depression, anxiety, strained relationships due to the stress, and more.

Here are some ways that you can truly help new parents who have a baby in the NICU.

Donate Gift Cards or Cash

With mounting medical bills and added expenses from running back and forth to the hospital, can quickly overwhelm stressed out NICU parents. The best thing that you can do to meet their immediate needs, is to donate gift cards to fast food restaurants, gas stations, or give them cash to pay for meals while they are at the hospital.

Offer to Help with Household Chores

When parents are busy going back and forth to the hospital, household chores are ignored and left for another day. Offering to help with laundry, dishes, light cleaning, and tidying up the house would be a huge burden lifted off their shoulders. Don’t just offer to do this one or two weeks, they will likely need help until their NICU baby comes home from the hospital.

Be a Listening Ear

New parents with a baby that is born prematurely is often overwhelmed and stressed out, even though they know what their baby is in great hands at the hospital. Be willing to be a listening ear when they need someone to talk to.

This is a stressful time for them and they need to know that they are loved. They also need to know that the emotions that they are feeling is normal. Assure them that there was likely nothing that they could have done to change the situation.

Skip Sharing Other NICU Stories

It is best to keep other NICU stories to yourself so that the new parents don’t feel like you aren’t sympathetic to their particular situation. You want to show the new parents that you care about them and that you are there for them. Other NICU stories can be encouraging but now isn’t the time.

Go for a Visit

There is nothing better in this world than cuddling with a tiny baby. Offer to go to the hospital with your friend or even take a shift when the parents are unable to be there. Do get permission from the baby’s parents first in case the hospital has a specific policy for visitation in the NICU.

Encourage Them to Find a NICU Support Group Before Going Home

Many parents fear taking their premature baby home because they lose the support of doctors and nurses. A support group is an excellent way for them to find other parents who have been in their situation. The groups can also help them find and put them in touch with local caregivers. Neonatal support groups are a safe place for parents to share stories and learn how to cope with the stresses that come with bringing home a premature baby.

Don’t Stop Offering Help

The excitement and concern for a new baby can slowly fade as the weeks go by. Parents of premature babies need continual support, even if it is just a listening ear. Make it a point to check in on the new mom every few days to see if she needs any help.

Do Offer to Help Once the Baby Comes Home

Once the baby comes home, often times the baby has a weakened immune system is being shuttled to various doctors appointments or needs special care. More than likely, mom is often stuck in the house for weeks on in except for doctors appointments or the occasional car ride. Offer to help with running errands, chores, or going shopping. Or offer to watch the baby, while mom gets a shower, runs errands, takes a nap, etc.

Set Up a Meal Train

More than likely, the baby’s parents are dealing with the new stresses that comes with caring for a premature baby at home. Bringing the family food for several weeks is a great way to lighten the load and help the family. Do ask them if they have any preferences or have any allergies before bringing them food. If you can’t take them a meal, give them a gift card so that they can order take out one evening.

Trips back and forth to the hospital come with added financial woes, loss of sleep, depression, anxiety, strained relationships due to the stress, and more. Helping new parents who have a baby in the NICU is one of the best things that you can do to help reduce the additional burdens that come with the territory. The ideas listed above just a few of the best ideas on how to help a NICU family but there are always countless more ways to help.

Have you ever had to help a NICU family? Do you agree with our suggestions on how to help a NICU family?


Christy has three children. She has over 22 years of parenting experience, including parenting as a young mom, a single parent, and dealing with chronic illness/pain. When she isn't writing, you can find her coloring, playing Candy Crush, and listening to Taylor Swift.

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  1. These are awesome tips and I really love the one about skipping sharing of other NICU stories. A meal train and offer of help once they are home are great ideas.

  2. My sister had a premature baby and thankfully he is perfect now but those were tough days for them. Giving support and meals is a nice idea and will help during those times of need.

  3. Yes, I love this! I personally have never known a NICU family, but if I did, I’d do many of these. I’m a terrible cook, but I’d offer to pick them up food.

  4. Robin Rue says:

    These are SUCH great tips. I have never know a NICU family, but if I ever do I will try these.

  5. Thank you for sharing these tips. My niece is unfortunately in the NICU right now.

  6. I am so with you on this! I have 4 year old twin grandchildren and they were born three months early weighing on 1.5 & 2.0 lbs each. It was terrifying but the love and understanding we were shown in the NICU by not only the nurses & doctors but the community as a whole who never let us think we were alone was such a huge surprise and gift that we were so thankful for. Today you could never tell that they were preemies!

  7. I have not ever had the opportunity to help a NICU family and I haven’t know one. I definitely agree with your suggestions on how to help a NICU family and will use them if I get the opportunity. Thank you.

  8. Several of my friends have been NICU families. These are all really concrete ways to help.

  9. It’s got to be such a stressful time for the while family. Such great ideas on how help out. I’m sure they’d love any help and support.

  10. Great post. I think this is so needed. I know a young lady whose baby was in the NICU on insta and I wish I lived near to help out with food and stuff.

  11. What wonderful suggestions to help out a family in need. These easy to do suggestions will be appreciated beyond words.

  12. This is really amazing! You have a very kind heart to share this information and tips on how to help NICU family. Thank you! You’ve touched everyone’s heart.

  13. Ruth I says:

    Must be very hard knowing your kid is in NICU. There are all remarkable tips and suggestions to follow. It always feels good to help.

  14. These tips are really wonderful! This could help NICU family a lot. If ever I see them, I will definitely do what I can to help.

  15. I have never thought of this because I personally don’t know any NICU family. Glad you share this. It’s always great to lend a helping hand.

  16. My husband’s friend had twins that were in the NICU. Some of these tips would have come in handy!

  17. Nikka Shae says:

    Thanks for posting about this, I’m now aware that this is available for NICU family.

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