Packing Essentials for Your NICU Journey

Being in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with your precious little one can be an overwhelming experience. It's a world where love meets science, each beep and buzz intertwining with the heartbeat of your most heartfelt commitment. As you prepare to navigate this journey, packing the right items for both your baby and yourself is more than just practical—it's a way to foster comfort, familiarity, and strength in a setting that is anything but ordinary. 

This article is designed to help you pack thoughtfully, ensuring that you’re equipped to support your baby's fight and care for yourself with the same tenderness. From the tiniest onesies to your own cozy cardigan, each item is an important part of healing and resilience. 

Clothing for NICU Babies:

Your baby’s comfort in the NICU is paramount. Ensure you pack:

Snap-Closure Onesies: Choose ones that are gentle on the skin and won't interfere with medical equipment. 

Preemie-Sized Outfits: Get clothes that fit the unique needs of your preemie. The hospital will provide some preemie clothes, but it is good to have your own that you can get used to and bring home with you. 

Hats and Socks: Help regulate their body temperature 

Kimono-Style Tops: Ideal for easy access when medical lines are in place. These are also helpful for skin-to-skin time with Mom. Kangaroo care is an incredibly important time of bonding for Mom and baby. 

Soft Infant Blankets: Opt for hypoallergenic materials for a touch of home and extra warmth.

Remember, while the NICU often provides newborn clothing, having your baby wear personal items can bring a sense of normalcy and comfort. Just ensure to label everything, and ask nurses when it's appropriate for your baby to wear them.


What to Wear and Bring for Yourself:

Your own comfort is crucial during this time. Make sure to have:

Hands-Free Pumping Gear: Simplify your pumping routine with the right bra and check with the NICU on available supplies.

Comfort Is Key: Pack comfortable clothing for long days and nights—think sweatpants, cardigans, and cozy socks.

Naps and Rest: Bring a neck pillow and your own blanket and pillow for those much-needed naps.

Breast Pump Accessories: Even if the NICU supplies some items, your personal nipple cream or breast pads may be preferred.

Insulated Tote: A quality insulated tote is essential for storing and transporting your breast milk after pumping.

Stay Refreshed: Food, Drink, and Self-Care:

Hydration is a must. Make sure to pack a quality reusable water bottle and pay attention to your hydration levels. 

Self-care isn’t selfish! Make sure to pack toiletries. It’s important to bring your own personal items to feel fresh and maintain your routine. Include items like a toothbrush, chapstick, and face wash for those overnight stays.

Relaxation Aids: Consider essential oils, meditation app on your phone or anything that helps you unwind.

Keeping Memories: A journal is a private space for your thoughts, fears, and baby’s milestones. Bring a journal to process the ups and downs of your unique experience in the NICU. Many preemie parents find it very helpful and therapeutic to journal during this time. 

Entertainment: Bring your headphones, your tablet or device for movies and music, books and e-books. Some parents opt for stress managing activities like adult coloring books or crossword puzzles. 

Helpful tip: If bringing a device, make sure to pack an extra long charger. 

Support for the Emotional Rollercoaster:

Hand-Held Mirror: A small mirror can serve as a beautiful tool to see your baby during kangaroo care time.

Calming Tea: A soothing cup can be a comforting ritual.

Reach Out: Being in the NICU can be a very isolating, lonely time. Even though preemie parents need their space to grieve, it is also important to reach out to your support systems. Make sure to reach out to friends and family and lean on your loved ones. 

Ask For Help: It can be difficult to ask for help. Especially when we are overwhelmed and may not know what exactly we need. When your loved ones offer to do things for you, try your best not to feel bad. Let your loved ones be there for you and help you during this difficult time. No one expects you to do it all alone. 

Remember, this journey is as much about you as it is about your baby. Your well-being matters. By bringing along these essentials, you’re not just surviving the NICU—you’re creating an environment of love and care for your newest family member.