10 Ways You Can Help Friends or Family Who Have a Baby in the NICU


It’s been almost four years since my twin boys, Dominic and Julian, were born. They arrived prematurely, and spent the next six weeks in the NICU fighting for their lives. That may seem a bit dramatic, but that’s actually what they were doing every day. Both of them were weak, had trouble breathing and battled serious infections.

Just like many other NICU moms, I also had a family at home — a husband and three older children. It was September, so they had just started a new school year.

Luckily, I had an amazing support network of family, friends and coworkers. They helped our family make it through one of the toughest times in our lives.

If you have a friend or family member with a child in the NICU, here are a few ways you can help:

1. Offer a ride.  

New moms aren’t allowed to drive for one to six weeks, depending on their delivery. There was no NICU in my hometown, as is the case with most rural areas. The hospital was over an hour away from my house. That means I was traveling three hours each day to see my little ones. Luckily, my hubby and brother did most of the driving.

2. Bring a meal.

Whether you cook one or pick one up, that’s one less meal a NICU mom has to worry about. You could even coordinate with others to bring a meal to the house each day.

3. Clean up.

Offer to clean the kitchen or bathrooms. As a mom, I felt a bit embarrassed letting my coworkers see my messy kitchen. But they helped without judgement, knowing we all need a helping hand sometimes.

4. Do some laundry.

All moms know the laundry never stops. Offer to either run a few loads, fold some, or simply put clothes in the correct rooms.

 

5. Help with the older kids.

You could offer to take them to practices or drive them to school. You could even offer to keep them overnight to allow both parents time off.

6. Offer to visit the baby in the NICU.

RESOURCES FROM NICU HELPING HANDS

If you’re a family who needs help with neonatal intensive care, please visit Project NICU, One-on-One Mentoring Program, Family Assistance Program, NICU Mom Connect, or Angel Gown® Program.

This one is reserved for the closest friends and family, as visitors are limited. But it was nice knowing a loved one was with my babies when I had somewhere else to be.

7. Get some groceries.

Even if mom can’t think of a list, pick up some of the staples to help the family. Think of some easy meals they can pop into the oven. Grab some snacks and drinks.

8. Put a care package together.

If you’ve had a baby, you know what moms need: snacks, drinks, coins for the vending machines, Advil, hygiene products, etc.

9. Take up a collection.

Most parents never ask for monetary help. But no matter what their financial situation, having a baby in the NICU is costly. Extra gas, babysitters, eating away from home and renting rooms are just a few of the added expenses NICU parents incur.

10. Just ask! What can I do? How can I help? What do you need? 

Every family is different. Each one has different needs.

Having a baby in the NICU is such a stressful time. I don’t know how our family would have made it through without the help and support of our loved ones. If you were a NICU mom or dad, what are some things that helped you?

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