How to Help Someone With a Baby in the NICU

How to Help Someone With a Baby in the NICU

Have you or anyone you know ever had a baby in the NICU? 

Until about a year ago, I didn’t have much experience with the NICU. NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I knew of a friend here or there who had a baby spend some time in the NICU, but I didn’t think much of it.  


When I was eight months pregnant with my youngest daughter, some concerns appeared on the most recent ultrasound.  I had had a pretty straightforward pregnancy up until then but I was told that I would need to deliver at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit because there was a good chance my daughter would need to spend some time in the NICU after birth.  Sure enough- there were also complications with my delivery and my daughter spent 8 days in the NICU before we were able to bring her home.  My experience changed everything about my perspective on families dealing with a child in the NICU.


Everyone we knew was messaging us with prayers and well wishes.  It was beautiful and kind, but it was also completely overwhelming.  So many people wanted to help, but I didn’t have the brain capacity at the time to respond to all of the messages. 

Ways to Help

After having time to reflect, I came up with this list that might be helpful if someone you know has a baby in the NICU. Here are my suggestions on ways to help.

Meals: With all of the stress of the NICU, the last thing any mother wants to worry about is what to cook.  In my experience, we were driving an hour back and forth every day to visit my daughter, so we didn’t even have the time to cook.  We were surrounded by wonderful family and friends who set up a Meal Train for us. It’s simple and easy to do and share with others who may want to help. 

Childcare:  In most NICUs, children are not allowed to visit with their parents. When my youngest was in the NICU we also had an 18-month-old at home. Juggling who was going to visit and who was staying home was a challenge, so it was always welcome when someone offered to take our oldest for a few hours.

Cleaning: While it felt like my world came to a halt, everything else continued to go on around me like normal. The dogs were still tracking in dirt and the laundry and dishes piles continued to grow. My oldest child continued to make messes everywhere she went. Coming home from the hospital at the end of the day to a dirty house would send me into a spiral.  Having someone come and clean was a God send. 

Gift cards: If you are not in a place to physically help the family, gift cards are the way to go—gas, fast food, Target, etc.  So many small and unexpected costs popped up while visiting back and forth.  My husband and I were both not working at the time, and money was already tight.  Having these small everyday costs covered was an absolute lifesaver! 


While our experience was traumatic, it also taught us a lot.  NICU doctors and nurses are some of the most kind people I have ever met. I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought. We saw what a beautiful village we had around us to help with all of the things listed above. I witnessed true miracles. And at the end of the day- I brought home a happy and healthy baby, which is all I could ever ask for.

Story by Alyssa Dock for Content is for entertainment and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.