A lot of neonatal units usually go all out at Christmas. They make Christmas on the NICU as special as they possibly can. Decorations go up, there’s usually a tub of chocolates lying around and if it’s possible the staff do something so that families have a beautiful keepsake from their NICU baby. Then on Christmas day you are overwhelmed with the generosity of past families or random members of the public. The gift donations are awe inspiring and the staff find they have a huge amount to share out amongst the babies.

This year however many are not accepting gift donations of any kind (thanks COVID). The neonatal units just cannot risk accepting gifts with such poorly babies to look after. Charities are accepting financial donations and helping in as many creative and new ways that they can given the restrictions they are under.

It’s been such a tough year for everyone. As two mums who have experienced the neonatal unit we really can really empathise with anyone there this Christmas. Lisa spent Christmas on the NICU with her son. There is such an emphasis on family over Christmas that it can be really hard leaving that day. Every day it’s hard to leave but Christmas Day just feels so much tougher.

Lisa’s mum was cooking a Christmas dinner and was trying really hard to still make the day special. She visited the NICU in the morning to get her cuddle and was shocked at the amount of gifts piled up next to her son’s incubator. In fact, it looked like Santa’s grotto! The gifts were so kind and thoughtful and helped make good memories of the day.

Mummy's Christmas cuddle with her premature baby
Christmas cuddle with my preemie

What can we do to make NICU families feel special this year?

If you know someone who is spending Christmas on the NICU then a message, call or even a pre-recorded video would be welcome. It doesn’t have to be long, just a quick “hello, we are thinking about you. Let us know if you need anything”.

If you want to send a gift then most online retailers allow you to change the shipping address so it is different to the billing address. This means that you are limiting your gifts exposure to the virus and that you still get to send a gift. Check out the gift guide if you want some inspiration!

Donate to a premature baby charity. Lots of people are making a conscious effort to stop sending Christmas cards. This could be because of them wanting to do their bit for the environment or it could be that more modern ways suit their busy lifestyles. It’s become popular to donate the money they save from sending cards to charity (especially in the work place). If this is something you can do, any of the charities would be grateful for your donations. Many are still finding ways to help and support families. It could be that they help a newly discharged premature baby. As many veteran preemie parents will tell you: your story doesn’t end when you leave the NICU. Or the money might help to fund important research.

Did you see…

Our recent blog on Christmas gift ideas

If you want to join a community of others who are experienced or have experienced the neonatal journey then come join us in the Preemie Support Village.

Also did you see that our NICU diaries are now available on Amazon! There are 5 diaries to choose from:

Green diary with duckling, dinosaur and giraffe
White diary with duckling, dinosaur and giraffe
Duckling diary
Dinosaur diary
Giraffe diary