How to celebrate Valentine's Day in the NICU (2023 NICU Gift Guide Included)

A valentine's day preemie onesie with the words "Mommy's valentine" and another nicu baby onesie with the words "daddys valentine" over strands of red heart garland, plus the text: Written by Trish Ringley, RN, BSN, NICU nurse & NICU parent advocate since 1997

Yes, you can enjoy holidays in the NICU! Of course, if you don’t feel up to it, there’s no pressure at all. 

But if you’re feeling bummed out that you can’t have the sweet, adorable Valentine’s celebration you hoped for, don’t give up hope! 

You have complete permission to dress up in festive attire, decorate your baby's area with cute Valentine's Day garland, make a love-themed craft, write in your journal, spend quality time with your baby, bring your baby gifts or whatever your heart desires!

Ask the nurses how you can decorate your baby’s space for the holiday, and you can even ask them if you can take a special Valentine's photos of your baby if she's stable enough for that. 

Go ahead and use this day to focus on your love for your baby and family, and create memories to cherish for years to come.

Of course this is a holiday when folks love to exchange meaningful gifts that remind us of love, so if you need help coming up with some appropriate NICU gift ideas, we’ve got you covered!

Here are 20 ideas each for baby gifts, mom gifts and dad gifts. 

Great Valentine’s gifts for a NICU baby*

preemie onesie with the words "tiny valentine" on the front
  1. A special onesie with a Valentine's Day theme
  2. A heart-themed baby blanket
  3. A cute love-themed photo frame to hold a picture of your baby
  4. A clever book that prompts you to write letters to your baby
  5. A custom book featuring baby's name and the names of all the people who love them
  6. A set of handmade heart-shaped scent cloths - great for bonding!
  7. A collection of love-themed children's books
  8. A mobile with heart-shaped decorations (ask if the NICU will allow it to be hung)
  9. NICU-approved artwork to decorate baby’s space
  10. A WubbaNub pacifier 
  11. A plush lovey for comfort
  12. A custom-made piece of artwork featuring the baby's name
  13. A personalised music box
  14. A personalized bib or burp cloth with your baby's name and a heart design
  15. A handmade knitted or crocheted hat in a heart pattern
  16. A custom-made keepsake box to store your baby's special items
  17. A customized stuffed animal with your baby's name and birthdate
  18. A special photo session to capture memories of your baby in the NICU
  19. A heart-shaped baby rattle to commemorate this first Valentine’s Day
  20. A plantable Valentine’s card filled with flower seeds which can be planted in baby’s honor

*If you are worried about any of these items being allowed in the NICU itself, please ask your NICU staff first. 

Great Valentine’s gifts for a NICU mom:

three nicu mom necklaces with preemie baby footprints engraved with birthdates, one sliver one bronze one gold

  1. A journal to write down thoughts and memories
  2. A cozy blanket to snuggle with
  3. A playlist of comforting, inspiring, hopeful music to listen during those long NICU visits
  4. A kindle or tablet loaded with books, magazines, and games
  5. A special piece of jewelry that can serve as a reminder of the baby
  6. A massage or spa day
  7. A framed photo of the baby
  8. A memory box to store keepsakes from the hospital
  9. A cozy pair of slippers to wear at home or at the NICU
  10. A gift card for a nearby restaurant or takeout food delivery service
  11. A breast-feeding pillow to make holding the baby more comfortable (great for babies who aren’t breastfeeding too!)
  12. A pre-paid parking pass for the hospital
  13. Gorgeous Valentine’s Day themed cookies
  14. A hands-free pumping bra to show you understand the struggle for any pumping mom
  15. A comfortable custom sweatshirt to celebrate mama’s love
  16. A refillable water bottle to stay hydrated
  17. A thoughtful care package with toiletries and snacks
  18. A handmade card or scrapbook filled with well-wishes and messages of support
  19. A soothing essential oil diffuser to create a calming atmosphere in the hospital room.
  20. A crochet heart “pocket hug” to show you care

Great Valentine’s gifts for a NICU dad:

small highball glass with nicu baby footprints etched on the side with the words "Dad est. 2017" engraved below.

  1. A personalized keychain with baby's name and birthdate
  2. A custom-made watch with a special message
  3. A heartfelt letter or poem
  4. A custom-made mug with baby's photo
  5. A custom-designed t-shirt with baby's name
  6. Personalized cocktail glass with baby’s footprints
  7. A handsome journal to document his journey
  8. A personalized baby book made just for dad
  9. A cozy blanket for snuggling with baby
  10. A sentimental keepsake box
  11. A gift card to a local restaurant or movie theater
  12. A framed photo of the NICU dad holding his baby
  13. braided leather men's bracelet with baby's name(s)
  14. A custom men’s ring with baby’s footprints
  15. A gift basket filled with his favorite snacks and beverages
  16. A NICU dad hoodie
  17. A video message from baby and family
  18. A live baby olive tree to plant outdoors in baby’s honor
  19. A kindle or tablet loaded with books, magazines, and games
  20. A donation to a NICU charity in his honor (some of our favorites include Project NICU, Hand to Hold, Carter’s Cause, and more!)

Did you celebrate Valentine's Day in the NICU? Have any suggestions for what else we should add to the list? Email us, we'd love to hear it!

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